explores Madisons spirits
(October 2012) When the harvest moon rises
in the sky, the leaves turn orange and the air cools, most people look
forward to one of the most popular holidays of the year Halloween.
They love the colors, the decorations, the opportunity to legitimately
play dress up and the thought of spine-tingling ghost stories.
Just in time for the season, Madison, Ind.-based author, Virginia Ginger
Dyer Jorgensen is offering up Madisons very own collection of
spine-tingling tales. The Ghosts of Madison, Indiana, published
by The History Press, will have its official launch on Friday, Oct.
12, at Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St.
Every so often, during certain times in history, there is an increased
interest in spiritual subjects. The recent proliferation of ghost hunting
TV shows, paranormal investigation groups, and books on the topic tell
us that we are currently experiencing such a period.
When writing a book about ghosts, you have to have
an open mind, Jorgensen says. Many people just dont
believe in something they havent seen themselves.
Since moving to Madison, Jorgensen and her husband, Dennis, have become
involved in several civic groups, and, with her background in history
and research, she wanted to help increase interest in local heritage
tourism. She constantly heard from residents and visitors that there
wasnt anything to do in Madison at night, so she started to think
about what types of entertainment could draw people to visit the downtown.
When my husband and I go on vacation, its usually to historic
locations like Williamsburg or Gettysburg and other Civil War sites.
Weve taken several ghost tours during those visits.
Madison is an excellent location to support that kind of attraction.
Ive been working on setting up a local ghost tour with a planned
launch next spring, in time for the annual Garden Tour and the start
of the tourist season.
The tour will be based on the stories in her book, with a few additions.
To gather background for the book, she has read mountains
of other books by well-known mediums and owners of ghost tours to gain
a good grasp of current views of the supernatural. Along with the local
ghost stories, she has also included some ideas about why paranormal
activity takes place at certain locations, during certain times.
While doing research at local archival sites and talking to people,
she found that there is a lot of conflicting information out there.
She thinks that getting all your notes to be consistent is the hardest
task in putting the stories together and looking at the finished book,
there are still areas where the information doesnt match up.
For instance, a homeowner tells me that the original family lived
in a building for a certain number of years, but when researching at
the courthouse, I find that they owned the house from a different time.
City employees told her that this is a common issue and that the city
records often conflict, too. Early recorders not knowing how to
spell someones name sometimes led to misspellings or outright
Theres even a notation in the historic files that says that
the recorder was drunk that day, so the records might not be accurate!
Trying to resolve conflicts in your information is what takes the most
Jorgensen has found this an enjoyable subject about which to write.
People are usually very happy to discuss their experiences. What
makes it fun, is that there are tales about public places like the Broadway
Hotel and Tavern, Whitehall Bed and Breakfast, Red Dog Antiques, the
Lanier Mansion, and the Ohio Theatre, because you can actually stay
at or visit those places.
There are also several accounts of sightings in local private residences
that have never before been heard.
When you hear one or maybe two stories about these experiences,
you might dismiss it as a quirk, but when you assemble a grouping of
stories from all over town, it adds up to something quite different.
You have a good collection of hauntings.
Even so, Jorgensen believes she spoke to only a small percentage of
people who have had these experiences and that there are many more who
didnt know about her project and didnt have the chance to
tell their story.
Ive already heard several new ghost stories and expect to
hear many more. Maybe there will be a Volume Two.
Nathan Montoya, co-owner of Village Lights Bookstore, says, There
are several popular works on ghosts, haunted trails, and such in Indiana
and Kentucky. Its high time Madison had its own, and a very good
one it is. Ive had a ball reading this book. The stories could
well change the way many Madison residents look at their old familiar
haunts, and the book will serve as a terrific guide for
visitors who are unable to catch one of Gingers future tours.
The book launch is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 pm. Light refreshments
will be provided. Jorgensen will be available to sign books and give
readings throughout the evening. She also will be signing her book from
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center
during the Night Spirits annual Halloween event at the Lanier
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