This Weeks Story
April 29, 2001
Old buildings often have
strange and very lasting effects
on those who violate their silent sanctuaries
late in the night
A strange encounter from
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Hailing From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Where it Happened: A very old building
This night took place a few weeks after New Years Day in 1999. My friends and I were trying to think of some cool places to go. One of them told us about a place called the "Old Mill" just up the canyon. He said he heard on a radio show that the place was supposed to be haunted. We all decided to go take a look to see if we could get in. The building is on an old dark road. In one of the scariest settings you could imagine. The building looks like a cross between an old church and a castle. It's over a hundred years old.
The three of us gathered some flashlights, cameras, and tape recorders to see if we could get anything. We hopped a fence and continued around to the back of the building. There is a caretaker living in a trailer about 50 yards from the building so we were all as quiet as possible. We don't normally break into buildings, but our curiosity got the best of us.
We had to go over fences booby trapped with tar, and cans to get to an open window. Once inside we were all pretty spooked. We all had an eerie feeling, like we were being watched or something. We started exploring around the building taking some pictures and talking when one of my friends started acting really weird, like something was attacking him.
He ripped off his sweatshirt and started telling us he was getting burned, we all were freaking out and got out of there as fast as we could. When we got to out cars my friend was still in pain. He lifted up his shirt, and by his armpit he had a burn mark the size of my fist. While we were in the car we turned on the tape recorder to see if anything weird would show up. On the recording there was what sounded like some sort of animal. Maybe a dog. It sounded pretty vicious to say the least.
I thought I'd just tell you our ghost encounter. Keep it Safe
A great encounter! Thanks, Ben, for sending it in.
Now you know (or at least most should know by now) that I never set about trying to discredit an encounter (someone once wrote and told me to stop calling them "stories" because that word made it seem like they weren't quite real ... and who knows, maybe that is true) ... anyway, here is something to think about: When you scaled the booby trapped fence, I wonder if it might have been possible that the "tar" (or other petroleum based substance) got onto your friends clothing ... giving it just enough time to soak through his shirt and onto his skin, causing a burning reaction. I mean it is possible.
BUT there is the thing about the tape recorder picking up the sound of the dog. That lends authenticity to the story -- yet either way, it does support the theory that old haunted buildings have a certain way of protecting themselves from intruders -- whether from this world or from beyond.
Recently, this past week, someone wrote to me about how to even begin researching their old home -- and I would like to reprint my reply here for any of you who are looking to dig up some history or unearth some facts about the building your live in, work in, or pass by in your daily travels, here it is:
On Monday last, I had received this e-mail:
Hi, I like your site. My wife and I have strange things that go on in our house. Sometime soon I'll have to write a story or two to tell you about it, but for now I was hoping you could help me out. A lot of the people tell how they did some investigating on their homes to find out past histories. Where did these people go to investigate? How did they find the history of their home? Is there some sort of public record, and if so, where is it? I would like to know the history of our house. Do you think you can help me?
Thanks. David C.
Here was my reply (with some added thoughts). I hope it helps more of you start your research:
Start by reading the first (very first) story on Ghostories -- you'll find it in the "Afraid" Ghostories Library ... basically, you'll find there is a section, wing or floor in your local (or county) public library, the "Historical Area" or sometimes they call them a "Heritage Room" -- go there first and see what you can uncover, and don't be shy about talking to the librarian (the more "unapproachable" they look, the more they know).
Then, at your county (and city) offices you should be able to find assessor information (public information) where you can learn who owned the home (and property) every year from the time it was first constructed (even "conceived" on paper, re-zoned or master planned).
You should be able to locate files and maps in the Planning Department or Public Works regarding the development / construction of your neighborhood or subdivision (remember, these files and documents are not the exclusive property of the government, they are "Public" information and you have a right to review the files, sit at a desk in their offices, and spend whatever time you need to read everything that is in them -- and whatever the city doesn't have, the county will have, and visa versa, don't forget that). If your tract or home was built on a landfill, an indian burial ground, a major fault or batholith, that information should be there!
Some of the more fun records are the actual minutes of the public hearings where the Council, Board of Supervisors, or Commission secretary actually noted the names and addresses of those who spoke at the microphone during a hearing regarding your tract, block, neighborhood, etc. See your City Clerk (or, if county, Clerk of the Board) for these files. These files will give you some very interesting clues as to what was there (and what went on) before your home (or block of homes) were built.
Remember too, your house is a function of your area (in your case, around 1910), so do a little brushing up on your local history back then ... who knows, maybe a town founder, developer or architect, town doctor, the town recluse or estranged lover lived there.
And, it is quite common for folks to run to city hall and fight new (any new) development in town -- which could well have been yours -- and the one who was the most vocal against having a new neighborhood, we-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l, who knows, your local spook could we be him (or her)!
(I just love when I hear in public hearings or in the news that someone said, "Over my dead body will that new tract, etc. etc. go in!")
When you are at the library, fire up that rickety old microfiche machine and look through the records on film of the local papers (and not just the headlines, look for the articles the reporters try to bury in the back sections and pages!) during a full three years before and two years after your home (tract, building, etc.) was built.
And, it never hurts to wander over to your local Senior Citizens Center and strike up a conversation with the old timers -- they love to talk about the years that have past, the things that were and are no more -- and they would appreciate your company.
Maybe you even have a local barber who is near retirement -- they are a tremendous resource of people and events from days gone by. Possibly you'll walk away with a lot more than just a haircut!
Remember, you can look at your research like a journey into the past ... take each piece of information and treat it like a lead to the next piece ... making a path for you to follow during your "discovery."
Don't leave out the possibility that in some rare cases, the answer lies not in the past, but in events that have not yet happened -- events that are to come -- ones that your ghost might be trying to warn you about. In these cases, look for clues to see where your family or area is headed -- is there a sign post up ahead? A dangerous plateau? A washed out bridge or missing train trestle? Have your stairs become especially creaky of late?
Best of luck! That should lend you a few ideas about how to start your research. Now go fire up your time machine and let me know how it goes.
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