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Ghost hunters

Paranormal experts to chase spirits
at Carrollton's Butler-Turpin house

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (May 2006) – Back in 1859, Maj. Thomas Langford Butler built a home in what is now Gen. Butler State Park in Carrollton, Ky. He lived there with his daughter, Mary Ellen, her husband, Philip Turpin, and their six children. Mary Ellen died of tuberculosis a year after the house was built.

Denita Ross

Photo provided

Ghost hunter Denita Ross talks
to the spirit of "Thomas," which she
says is the white orb above the bed.

The state of Kentucky took over the property in 1933, and the home became a historic house museum. Evelyn Welch, the Historic Site Museum Manager at the Butler-Turpin Mansion, said that during the 1900s, stories grew in Carrollton that the house was haunted. Many stories exist of encounters with ghosts and spirits at the house.
According to Welch, it is the ghost of Mary Ellen and a 6-year-old girl name Lizzie Cantrell who inhabit the house. Lizzie is believed to be a cousin of the Turpins that came to visit with her father and became attached to the home. Also believed to roam the house is the spirit of Thomas Butler.
Welch said that although she has worked at the house for 13 years and has never experienced any major ghostly incidences, there are the oddities that raise questions. For example, a clock that doesn’t work chimes, and digital photos taken in the house often will show unusual orbs – ghostly balls of energy or light. Other curious phenomena occur that might have ordinary explanations or really have extraordinary causes.
With this background in mind, Gen. Butler State Resort Park is planning the Spirits of Butler Paranormal Program on May 20-21. The program, which is open to the public, is a study and investigation of paranormal activity at the Butler-Turpin State Historic House, cemetery and grounds. Paranormal investigators Denita Ross and Starr Chaney will lead the program.
Ross, a retired U.S. Navy veteran of 21 years, has been researching and investigating paranormal activity since 1997. Ross took courses at Louisiana State University on ghost hunting, and she has become a certified ghost hunter. In those classes, she learned how to use scientific techniques to determine what was possible ghostly activity and what was not.

Evelyn Welch and Denita Ross

Photo provided

An orb can be seen in the stairwell with
Butler Turpin site manager Evelyn Welch
and ghost hunter Denita Ross.

Ross explained the difference between ghosts and spirits. A spirit is a person who has died and crossed over to see the light and has come back to visit. A ghost, however, is earthbound. The ghost has not crossed over. Instead, it has decided to stay because of an attachment to a person or possibly a house. Some ghosts do not realize they are dead.
Ross said that her own experiences with the paranormal actually began when she was 4 years old and saw her first vision. At 18, her grandmother died, and she could see her. It was when she lost her husband that she decided to pursue paranormal studies. She believes her work in grief counseling has added to her heightened sensitivity to paranormal activity.
Many times, Ross said that her ability to see spirits or ghosts has helped grieving families through tough emotional circumstances. Ross recounted a story in which a family recently lost a son to an automobile accident. The family was torn apart by grief, but the spirit of the son came to Ross and told her “pennies at the feet.”
When Ross visited the grief-stricken family and relayed the message, the boy’s mother was stunned because she had been finding pennies near her feet for several days. The family was able to find some comfort with Ross’s aide.
Chaney has been a professional ghost hunter for nine years. She attended three different schools for certification in order to be well-rounded in paranormal studies. She learned to use the electronic equipment properly and recognize readings. She is a certified ghost hunter-researcher, certified paranormal investigator, certified EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) specialist, and certified instructor. Chaney is also an expert in dowsing rods, brass rods that sense electromagnetic fields that ghosts or spirits emit.
While she says she cannot see ghosts, she can feel their energy or presence and can usually tell whether the spirit is male, female or a child. Unlike Ross, who said she has never encountered mean or negative spirits, Chaney has. She said that her first negative entity was in a home she was renting. She used the Native American cleansing ritual of burning sage to get rid of the spirit.

Star Chaney

Photo provided

Ghost hunter Starr Chaney
runs a meter over Thomas' bed to
pick up electromagnetic readings.

Ross and Chaney have prepared the program for the paranormal weekend at Butler Park. Ross will start with a class to explain what to look for in taking pictures of possible paranormal activity. She said that ghosts put off electromagnetic energy usually captured on film as orbs. She will explain the differences between dust on the photo, moisture and possible orbs. Chaney will give a seminar on dowsing rods and explain the equipment that will be used during the investigation.
There will be a presentation of photos and EVP material that was collected during a previous study the two investigators conducted March 31. At the previous visit, they captured several voices on the EVP, one of which they believe to be Thomas Butler. They also encountered the ghosts of Lizzie Cantrell, Mary Ellen and the ghosts of four slaves, including 8-year-old Andrew, the friend of Lizzie.
The public is invited to attend the Spirits of Butler Paranormal Program. There are weekend packages available that include overnight accommodations at the state park, and there is a walk-in price of $20 that includes many of the scheduled activities.

• For more information, call (502) 732-4384.

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