Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Ghost Named Thankful

Old House Journal has a page dedicated just for their favorite ghost stories. Old homes that are renovated often stir up paranormal activity. This magazine’s readers submit stories about their encounters with ghosts.

My favorite story in this magazine was first published in the fall of 1988. A couple bought their dream 220 -year-old- farmhouse in Connecticut in the 1970s.

As they moved in it was apparent to them that they were not alone. It seemed they had a “permanent resident” on their hands. The wife stated, “It was like someone was reading over our shoulders.” She told her husband that she didn’t know why but that she felt their ghost was a woman.

The family often heard doors opening and closing--sometimes they were slammed. They heard footsteps upstairs most often in their daughter’s bedroom-- when their daughter was downstairs. The family also found items often were moved. They were then found later in unusual places.

Despite the fact this activity continued the couple stated they never were afraid. In fact, the wife felt comforted by the ghost’s presence. It was like there was lightness in the air when she was around.

Unfortunately, not everyone reacted the same way to her presence. One winter afternoon the families’ handyman was repairing a back windowsill when he realized a tool he needed was in the home. The family was away for the afternoon so he entered and existed the home through the basement cellar. When he tried to open the door that led from the cellar into the home he found it locked.

He heard footsteps overhead in the living room so he called out, “Can you unlock the door.” When he didn’t get a response he headed around to the front of the home thinking the family must have returned. But there was no car in the drive and the front of the house was securely locked.

He once again went to the back and entered the cellar. This time he heard footsteps near the door. The handyman once again called out but there was no response. He went back to the broken window and peered inside the home. He saw a form walking through one of the back rooms. Now upset, he left quickly leaving his tools behind.

After several months the couple became curious about their ghost. The wife called the previous owners who had lived in the farmhouse for over twenty years. This woman asked her about the “ghost” before she even mentioned it.

Shortly afterwards the family saw the ghost for the first and only time. They thought they saw a child walking down the stairs from the second floor but then they realized it was an old woman. She had grey eyes and wore a grey dress. She was very short and thin. This woman disappeared as they stared at her.

Later, when the wife dug into the history of the home she discovered that the farmhouse had been built around 1777. The same family, the Knapps had owned the farm for three generations. The last Knapp to live on the farm-- Ira Knapp brought his new bride, Thankful Knapp to the farm in the 1800s. Thankful was a small woman, weighing only 90 pounds.

Ira died in 1871 when Thankful was 65 years old. Her son’s encouraged her to move in with one of them but to their frustration Thankful refused stating she loved the farm and wanted to stay put. At the age of 85 Thankful was killed when she fell down the farmhouse cellar stairs.

As it turned out the couple was grateful for Thankful’s presence in their home. Once when the wife lost her wedding ring she searched for several weeks. Finally, fed up she requested, “Thankful, can you help me find it?” The following morning she entered the kitchen and spotted the ring lying in the middle of the tiled floor.

Another time the couple’s daughter returned home from school to discover she had forgotten her key. It was raining so she went around to the back porch and took shelter with the family’s two dogs. She tried the back kitchen door but it was locked and chained. She called out, “Thankful, please let me in, I’m cold.” When she bent down to pet the dogs the door flew open.

The family’s cat particularly enjoyed Thankful’s presence. They often saw him bouncing around pawing at something unseen in the air. He would jump and spin around as if he was being coaxed. He also would walk from room to room and back again as if he was following someone.

One time the family watched as he ran smack into a wall. He then sat staring at the wall as if he were asking why couldn’t I go through too. They then followed him as he ran around the corner and continued to play in the adjoining room at the exact spot on the other side of this wall.

The family noted that sometimes Thankful presence wasn’t felt or heard for a while. One of these times was when the cat died. All was quiet for two weeks. The wife felt Thankful must have been as sad as the family. Each year on January 22nd the home was very quiet. The wife went back through the history she had copied and discovered that Ira, Thankful’s husband had died on this date.

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