Saturday, December 13, 2014

Poltergeist: Fire Spook, Part l

This story is about how unexplained paranormal activity ruined one teenage girl’s life.

A worldwide firestorm was started in the winter of 1922 when two reliable witnesses confirmed that a family that lived on a farm located in Antigonish County in Nova Scotia was experiencing a terrifying haunting.

It was in January of this winter that Alex MacDonald his wife Janet and their 15-year old foster daughter Mary Ellen fled their home in terror.

Mr. MacDonald then had to walk a mile and a half twice a day to feed his livestock for he refused to stay any longer overnight at his farm. There was something malicious and deadly haunting the farmhouse.

Fires where starting faster than he could put them out without reasonable cause. The day the MacDonald’s left there were over a dozen fires that started within a 24-hour period.

The family had also experienced some bizarre activity with their livestock. Regardless of how many times Mr. MacDonald penned or tied up his cattle they were able to get loose within seconds of him leaving. Frustrated, he even chained each cow separately. They quickly escaped again.

Another mystery involved the farm’s horses. Their tails were found braided on several occasions.

Desperate the family not knowing what to do turned to the police. But they didn’t know what to do either.

The Story Heats Up

After the MacDonald’s abandoned their home it didn’t take long for the word to spread.

Just four days after the family left a reporter, Harold B. Whidden, who lived a 100 miles away in Halifax, visited the town of Caledonia Mills where the farm was located.
Harold Whidden
He interviewed a neighbor of the MacDonald’s Leo McGillivray who had seen the fires firsthand and whom the displaced family was now staying.

Whidden finding the story noteworthy wrote an editorial that was received favorably and with much interest.

He quickly decided to return to Caledonia Mills. This time he planned to stay at the MacDonald farm.

He enlisted the help of a local retired Detective, P.O. Carroll who was used to investigations and could view the story with a critical eye.

In the meantime the story of the Nova Scotia poltergeist was being reported as far away as Utah. The Ogden Standard Examiner not taking the story seriously reported that the only “spirits” in the MacDonald farmhouse were probably from a “little brown jug.”

Before this story ran its course newspapers from around the world printed it.

Two Witnesses

Detective Carroll
Whidden’s goal was to scoop the story but in the end he walked away a believer. Detective Carroll who had more to lose when it came to his reputation also openly admitted that the farm was haunted.

The two men accompanied by Alex MacDonald planned to stay at the farm for 3 days--they ended up staying for just 2.

The farmhouse was freezing, the fires had burned most of the furniture and the range, damaged as well, was unusable. The three men wore many layers of clothing to stay warm.

It wasn’t until the second night in the house that the activity began. Whidden and Carroll were sitting in two remaining chairs and MacDonald lay on the floor sleeping.

The two men heard strange noises coming from over their heads. These noises were quickly joined by footsteps as if someone were pacing in the bedroom on the second floor above the room where they sat.

The two became nervous knowing that no one else was in the farmhouse. After it had been quiet for a while Whidden felt a strong blow against his forearm.

He looked over at Carroll but the detective had not moved. He was just as perplexed as Whiddon for something had pulled firmly at his left arm.

Both men had felt these strong sensations through several layers of clothing. Whidden was wearing two shirts, a sweater a fur-lined overcoat and a horse-rug.

Now panicked, he awakened MacDonald and asked him if he had punched him--knowing full well that he had been sleeping.

For the next 20 minutes Whidden felt there was a presence in the room with them, it was watching them. It was determined later he had some psychic ability.

An “Expert”

The MacDonald case was so high profile it attracted the attention of a prominent scientist, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince.

He was a leading member of the American Institute of Scientific Research and an officer of the Boston Society for Psychic Research. These impressive credentials guaranteed that he always had the “final word.”

Prince was approached to investigate the MacDonald farm. Once he arrived he both intimidated and irritated the Nova Scotians. He quickly alienated his escort who was Harold Whidden.

Whidden, the journalist who had already encountered the activity noted Prince seemed to “already have made up his mind” as to what was happening before he arrived.

Prince felt “adolescents attracted poltergeists”--therefore the MacDonald’s foster daughter Mary Ellen must be the cause--all he had to do was prove it.

In Poltergeist: Fire Spook,Part ll-- I discuss Prince’s odd behavior, his conclusions and how it unjustly effected the MacDonald family.

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