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Ghost Stories

Chasing things that go
‘bump’ in the night

La Grange business owners capitalize
on ghostly tales with annual walking tours

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

June 2011 Edition Cover

June 2011
Edition Cover

LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2011) – Linda Foster bought her circa 1840 home in La Grange in 1993. She purchased it expecting to live there and run a business from the lower floors. But what she didn’t count on was the house being haunted.
“I don’t know how much I believe, and I don’t know how much I disbelieve,” said Foster. “I do know that I’ve never been truly afraid in this house.”
Living alone at the time, she bought the large, old house and set up her business, Christmas in Kentucky, on the first-floor. Her bedroom is on the second floor, and one night she awakened in the middle of the night to a very strong sensation of someone holding her hand. “The feeling persisted for five to 10 minutes then went away,” she said.
The second strange occurrence took place downstairs in the back of the foyer by a closet under the stairway. “I needed to get something out of the closet, and when I opened the door, I was nearly knocked down by the strong smell of ammonia,” she said.
Many people experience strange or unexplained occurrences and wonder if they are the result of a spirit world. Some shrug it off but others seek to quench their curiosity by calling on paranormal researchers or groups who specialize in documenting such activities. In fact, in recent years dozens of clubs in Louisville and surrounding cities have seen growth in memberships and the number of organized paranormal gatherings. The Internet is full of websites dedicated to paranormal groups and events and information. And right here in Kentuckiana, Gen. Butler State Resort Park now plays host to two paranormal weekends a year at its Butler Turpin Historic Home.

Ghost Hunting
Groups in the Area

• Bluemoon Paranormal
• Green Light Paranormal Investigations
• Kentuckiana Paranormal Investigators
• Paranormal Consults
• Paranormal Researchers of Ohio Valley (P.R.O.O.V.)
• Real American Hauntings
• Soul Warriors Paranormal
• Society for Paranormal Occurrences of Kentuckiana (S.P.O.O.K.)
• The Friendly Ghost Hunter
• Valley Ghost Chasers
More information can be found at www.ParanormalSocieties.com.

Puzzled by the odd happenings at her home, Foster called in a team of paranormal experts, P.R.O.O.V. (Paranormal Researchers of Ohio Valley). The team investigated her home and found an image in a tall mirror in her foyer. The mirror had come from an old Red Cross building in Louisville, and the figure of a nurse had traveled with it.
This would explain the hand holding, said Foster, since nurses commonly hold patients hands, and the strong smell of ammonia. The silver coating on the mirror was peeling off, which could explain the “image” of a nurse. Still curious, Foster then called in a clairvoyant who looked all around the house.

Linda Foster

Photos by Helen McKinney

Linda Foster of La Grange, Ky.,
lives and works at her Christmas in
Kentucky shop (pictured below),
which is on the annual Ghost Walking
Tour because of the unexplained
paranormal activity that
frequently occurs there.

Foster's Home

She told Foster that the original owners were in the living room: a man was going in and out of the front door daily (probably a businessman on his way to work); a woman was standing on the staircase landing waving goodbye or welcoming him home; there was a lot of activity in the kitchen area from a spirit she termed “Mabel,” who was very busy; and several little girls were happily playing on the stairs. The clairvoyant told Foster that the spirits were there constantly, but meant her no harm.
Foster can’t explain the happenings and has never had any interaction with the spirits. “I’ve witnessed all sorts of things. I know what I’ve seen,” she said, even though she can’t put her finger on any plausible answers.
Her home isn’t the only structure that is supposedly haunted in La Grange. Each fall, Discover Downtown La Grange conducts The Spirits of La Grange Ghost Tours at several locations around town. “All of the locations visited on the tour have had their occurrences investigated by paranormal teams and they have verified happenings,” said Foster. Volunteers lead the tours and all proceeds fund future community events such as Light Up La Grange and The Blue Hydrangea Tea Party.
The building that houses Big R’s BBQ has also seen many mysterious happenings. Rich Savage, a paranormal researcher, has visited the home several times and participated in a stakeout at the former Peak Funeral Home on Main Street. It is now a residence owned by former La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter.

Rich Savage

Savage

Savage is part of a group of five people who operate a paranormal research entity known as S.P.O.O.K. (Society for Paranormal Occurrences of Kentuckiana).
“I’ve always been interested in ghost hunting because of experiences I had when growing up,” said Savage, who is from Prospect. His parents’ home had been built over a graveyard, the gravestones having been removed, but eerie circumstances left behind.
When members of S.P.O.O.K. go into a building they look for certain clues to what is really going on. They base their interpretation on the history of the house, personal experiences, electro magnetic fields, temperature and humidity readings, and the use of digital video recorders. “We take baseline readings and look for a plausible answer. We try to go back and disprove it first,” he said.
Starr Williams has been “interested in the paranormal all of my life.” In the late 1990s, she saw a TV show that sparked her interested, and she became hooked on ghost hunting. “I had a lot of questions, and was looking for answers.”
Williams said she is called into a lot of homes and businesses in an effort to explain paranormal occurrences. More than once she has visited Butler-Turpin Historic House located inside Gen. Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, Ky. Her most recent visit there took place May 14 during a Spirits of Butler Paranormal Weekend event.
She said there is usually a lot of activity at every paranormal event she attends there, “but this time there was more than usual. There was activity in several rooms.” The patriarch of the Butler clan, Thomas, tried to communicate with several people, she said.
Williams herself is “sensitive to spirit energies,” she said. Upon entering a building, “I don’t want to know a lot about what a homeowner is experiencing. I like going through and getting my own readings.”

Starr Williams

Photo provided

Starr Williams of Lexington, Ky.,
often speaks at Paranormal
Weekend events held at Butler
Turpin Historic Home inside Gen. Butler
State Resort Park in Carrollton, Ky.

Williams, who lives in Lexington, Ky., has conducted paranormal research officially since 1997. She has traveled as far away as San Diego to hold seminars. She and her team of two daughters and a couple of close friends help people accept the fact that they have something in their home or business and how to deal with it, or help them set boundaries that will send the spirits on their way.
She said that in the past she has recorded a lot of activity in the graveyard near the Butler-Turpin home. “It’s a very sensitive area, just because of its history.”
Evelyn Welch, Historic Site Museum Manager at the Butler-Turpin State Historic House, said she holds many public paranormal events there “because of the public interest in the topic.” Most notable are the Spirits of Butler Paranormal Weekends held in May and October.
She has worked at the historic house since 1993, and one of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not the house is haunted. “Based on my experience, the people interested in this type of thing enjoy networking with others, sharing technology and stories of their experiences just like with any hobby,” said Welch. “I do think there are people who attend that have lost a loved one and are hoping to reconnect.”
Most of the information collected by paranormal groups are posted on their websites if the home or business owner agrees to do so. Williams said she would like to compile the findings from the Butler-Turpin house and put them on a CD that could be used as a fundraising project in the future for the historic site.
If you’re really serious about doing this for your client, you won’t charge them, she said.
She advises to be careful of this when looking for a paranormal team of researchers to avoid being the target of fraud.

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