October 17, 2012 by kittynh
Several years ago the Granite State Skeptics were invited to investigate a “haunted” museum. We did this on a Halloween night, a rainy Halloween night, which made the experience even more delightful.
While we did not disprove the existence of ghosts at the site, it should be noted we also did not disprove the existence of invisible unicorns at the site. We were however able to lay to rest at least one of the sightings, and in the process of studying orbs took a fabulous photograph of what appears to be a ghost.
The Goffstown Historic Society in Goffstown NH is the sort of museum anyone would enjoy. The history of the town is presented in an informal style. The staff we met was welcoming and justly proud of the museum.
Travis and Dale Roy, the co founders of GSS were there, along with myself. We packed only cameras, video and still, and some recording equipment. Other equipment, which one can purchase online and is the joy of reality TV show inspired ghost hunters, had not been proven to detect ghosts. Just because a line wiggles it is not an indication that dead spirits are near by.
The first thing was to learn just what the supposed ghostly phenomena was. We were told a former owner of the home, now long deceased, told people sitting in a certain spot that they were doing a “good job”. He was pleased with the museum. This positive ghostly message was heard by several staff members.
The museum had only that ghost story. It is very important for “ghost hunters” to find out exactly what is happening at a site. The best way to do this is to interview the people that work or live there. The person that has experienced the phenomena is always the best person to interview.
One of the problems with the museum site was that others, including less skeptical ghost hunters, had mentioned that at night there were ghostly silhouettes to be seen in the windows. The explanation we found, indicates why ghost debunking can not just be done online.
We found that there were many mannequins that were used to show clothing in displays. Often they were moved for cleaning, or simply just were near a window. With the blinds drawn for the evening, the resulting shadows would be spooky to anyone driving by.
It simply took our visiting, looking and the staff assuring us they had known the reason for the ghostly shadows all along. They had made no secret of this, indeed the only ghost they believed was inhabiting the historic society was the encouraging happy ghost voice. Ghost stories can become very involved once they are written about. A skeptic ghost hunting group will often find the supposed ghostly events are far fewer than reported once they speak to those working and living at a “haunted” site.
A previous visit by a non-skeptic ghost hunting group had turned up many photographs of orbs. We certainly tried our best to duplicate their photographs. I am happy to report that many of the more reputable ghost hunting groups now discredit orb photographs. Simply taking a photograph in the rain, or with dust in the air, can result in orbs.
Our attempt to make an orb photograph resulted in what we claim is one of the best ghost photographs ever taken in NH. Travis was becoming annoyed as his very good quality camera was having difficulty taking orb photographs. My cheaper camera was having no problem documenting orbs. We learned the cheaper the camera, the better the orbs.
I decided to help him by lifting up a chenille bed spread and giving it a shake, thinking the resulting dust would make a nice photograph. The resulting photograph was far more ghostly than just a few orbs. I was wearing black pants, which become almost invisible in the photograph.
I would also suggest that when ghost hunting, it is important not to announce before hand where and when you are investigating. While Travis Roy admonished me not to tell anyone, he slipped up and mentioned it while dining with his family before the investigation. His niece and her friend decided this would be not to be missed opportunity to scare Uncle Travis. Sadly, taps on windows and giggles do not scare most skeptics. A non skeptic group would have really enjoyed the performance.
We did not solve the mystery of the ghostly voice. We tried recording while sitting in the exact spot, but heard nothing. Still, the other claims of ghostly shadows and orbs, we feel we settled nicely.
I like to think, if there are ghosts, they are of the nice sort that inform the living of their satisfaction. The Goffstown museum staff deserve a “pat on the back” for the excellent job they are doing. If that pat comes from a ghost, all the better.