Monday, October 17, 2016

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN BLOGPOST #17- A Ghost Story



While reading the book that inspired me to finally buy some E.S.P. cards to conduct our on-air tests I came across a true ghost story that happened not far from where my Grandparents lived in Iowa. In 1959 the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory was invited to a small farmhouse on a dead end road three miles outside of Millville Iowa. The homeowners, Bill and Annie Meyer had fled their lifelong home out of fear and vowed to never return. In fact, Bill had been born on that property, built the house he left behind with his own hands, and lived there 83 years before fleeing for their lives.


The poltergeist events began around Thanksgiving of 1959. At 11 p.m. a black soot began falling from the ceilings of the house and covered everything. It lasted until approximately 3 a.m. and could not be explained away. There were no cracks in the ceiling or soot coming in the windows, they laughed about it initially but when strange events began to occur regularly they became more and more frightened. 77 year old Annie and her husband did not believe in ghosts so they thought maybe there was some kind of seismic event going on under the limestone shelf the farm was located on. But that was not the case.


Glass jars, eggs, bricks and pieces of wood began throwing themselves around the room. Many family members witnessed objects moving across the room seemingly on their own volition. Often times the objects would be thrown at the Meyer's direction. Doubting sons were just as frightened as their parents after seeing furniture flung around. The last straw for the Meyer's was when the icebox on their porch flipped over by itself and a large bowl flung itself across the kitchen. They called their soon for help and he told them to get out of there. They never returned.


Word quickly spread about the family's predicament, and people flocked to the farm to witness the strange going-ons. The sheriff department would try to keep the doors locked but would continuously find the doors wide open when they'd stop by to check on the property. Family friends stepped up to volunteer to stay there and solve this ghost business once and for all. One such person, Pat Livingston agreed to stay overnight. He was a riverboat captain afraid of nothing, and he would figure out who was responsible. As he fell asleep he admitted to seeing the rocking chair glide across the floor. The next thing he knew he had been flipped out of the bed and the mattress was lying on top of him. That was enough for him, frightened to death he immediately left the farmhouse. It was about this time that the researchers from Duke arrived. They were taunted by locals but did manage to discover that the farmhouse contained a complete negative charge and radiation levels were higher than normal. They did not witness any poltergeist activity, but they could not easily explain the phenomenon either. The house remained empty and was eventually sold to the Meyer's neighbors. Over the years it has been used to store hay, and has been forgotten to some extent. The crowds of people who flocked to the house no longer do, but it is still referred to as "that haunted house".


Back in 2012 I was visiting Iowa with my mother, when we came across the "haunted house" that she and her friends knew of when she was growing up there. It was out in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road, and was almost entirely grown over. She said that a crazy woman lived here and would walk back and forth to town from here. She perhaps had even died in the house? You know how these stories go. Here is my story from that blog post.


First off I want to share with you another submission we received for the Jandek Cover Art Contest from Thomas. Another great entry folks - you are all feeling the Jandek!


The photo taken by Steven yesterday reminded me of the pictures I'd taken at the end of the summer during my postcard tourism trip. I made the trip with my Mother and made a point of swinging through her hometown on the way home. While there she told me about a haunted house that her group of friends would go out to when they were in school. Since we were in that neck of the woods we thought we'd see if it was still there - I wasn't about to pass up a chance to see a haunted house!!



It was on a gravel road off of a gravel road, and set back a ways into a grove of trees, making it difficult to find. But find it we did - and I just had to get out of the car and take a closer look. The sun was still out, it wasn't dark yet but my Mom opted to stay in the car. It was a walk up hill through chest high weeds and shrubs, but it was so worth it.


My Mom explained to me that this house had belonged to a woman who would walk into town daily from her home and wander the streets. She probably wasn't crazy, but definitely an outsider and in a small Iowa town she stuck out like a sore thumb. Kids would cross the street to avoid her when they saw her coming their way. Then one day she didn't show up in town. And then another day went by and another. A week had maybe passed before anyone thought to go out and check on her, and when they did they found that she had died in her home. Her rotting body had been there for most of a week before being discovered! The house was never razzed and being that she had no family to take care of things it remained untouched for years and years.


Now keep in mind that I knew this story while approaching the house  but this has all happened over 60 years ago! I figured I would be walking into an empty house full of sagging ceilings and spider webs. The windows were old thick glass and impossible to see in. The rooms inside were just filled with shadow.


Do you see what I mean?

I had approached the house from the side leading to the back door, as the front was really overgrown. And these were my only glimpses inside at that point. And then I  followed a deer path around the corner and found an open window.




My first glimpse was a torn curtain hanging kitty wumpus fom the window I'd tried to peek in. There was a bed too. I wanted to see more but found myself creeped out enough that even holding my hand in the window with a camera to take a picture seemed risky! I looked a little bit closer and saw a sign on the floor in the corner. I couldn't believe that there was still stuff in there!



I gathered up my courage and stuck my hand in the door and snapped a picture. In the world of digital cameras you can instantly see the image taken. I peeked at the photo and was taken aback by what I saw.


The mattress was long gone, eaten up by rodents, but the metal bed frame remained, and the sun managing to peek through the window caught the wallpaper design, or what remained of the wall behind. Knowing the story behind this house, this very well could have been the bed where they found the woman's body, one week after her death.

I was intrigued so I brushed the shrubs away and managed to take in the whole room and was happy that I did. Have a look for yourself.



spooky shaped water stain in the back corner!
  
It amazes me what is left in the house after so long - a chair, a radio, a bed. But I was scared just standing by a window. There was no way I would ever enter into the house itself. I don't think you could ever stage a haunted house as well as what I found in this one room. Who knew what was upstairs? The picture below shows how close I was willing to go in the door.


I called it quits then, I didn't want to leave my Mom waiting in the car too long, and honestly it was a relief to have that as an excuse to leave. Your mind can make you see and hear things not there, and this creepy environment had me jumpy and scared. And then the sun was setting too. I understand why my Mom and her friends would head out of town to try and go to the haunted house - but she said they never made it too far up the hill before they'd turn around scared to death and run for the safety of town and the familiar.

Happy Halloween everyone - twenty days to go!!

Shelley




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