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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Science or supernatural: BG haunts

Chris Woodyard sees dead people.

“It is rather nice when relatives come by for a visit sometimes,” Woodyard said, “Although my late father-in-law drives me crazy sometimes, showing up to ask me to tell my husband something.”

Woodyard is one of the notable ghost writers of Ohio, having written the Haunted Ohio books, along with fellow writer John Kachuba, author of the Haunted Heartland series.

Kachuba also is one of the most respected ghost writers in the nation and has worked with both the National Geographic and Discovery channel. It was his love of history, he said, that originally led him to the paranormal world.

“When you have an interest in history you have a tendency to hang around graveyards,” he said.

For Woodyard, it was her experiences with seeing ghosts as a child that led her to writing about – and investigating – the paranormal.

“When I see ghosts, they look very real and very solid,” Woodyard said.

However, as far as investigating go, neither Woodyard nor Kachuba use scientific tools while visiting a place.

“I am a ghost writer first and a ghost hunter second,” Kachuba said. “My focus is more on the story, the people and the history.”

On the other side of the fence are scientific investigators, such as Pat and Carrie, co-founders of the Paranormal Researchers of Ohio, who set out to disprove hauntings, rather than writing about the legends.

“Ghosts are not white sheeted things that fly in the air,” Pat said.

Teams such as the Paranormal Researchers of Ohio, which is part of the TAPS family, a Sci-Fi channel ghost hunting group, use tools such as audio recordings, video, photography and EMF readers, to either prove – or most often disprove – the presence of paranormal activity.

Beyond this equipment, Pat and Carrie felt one of the most important tools, and evidence, in an investigation is a person’s own experience.

Experiences such as being “touched” by a ghost, are important to consider when investigating a case, Carrie said. Both Carrie and Pat have been touched before.

“It felt like a large ice cube on my elbow,” Carrie said in an attempt to explain the sensation, which can vary from person to person.

And of course, as both paranormal investigators and ghost writers agreed, there is always the dream of seeing a full body apparition.

Both Pat and Carrie believe they have seen full body apparitions before, however Kachuba has never seen a full-fledged ghost.

“I’m not as ‘sensitive’ a person,” Kachuba said, “but I’ve been told the more you get involved the better your natural ability will become.”

However, having the ability to see ghosts may not be all its cracked up to be.

“I describe it as being like the dog who hears the whistle that we can’t hear – it hurts the dog,” Woodyard said. “I’m picking up something normally out of range and it is physically distressing.”

The investigators echoed the possibilities of danger while experiencing and exploring the paranormal.

“There are such things as ghosts and they can hurt you,” Carrie said. Although violent incidences involving ghosts are rare, methods such as Ouija boards and séances increase the risk. The investigators explained that the use of these tools is like opening a door to the other realm and letting anything, and everything, in.

“You wouldn’t leave you door open at night and say welcome and go to bed,” Pat said.

As far as haunted locations in Ohio go though, both Kachuba and Woodyard mentioned the Wood County Historical Museum. Woodyard even deemed it “one of the most horrifying places” she has ever visited.

Intrigued by the mystery surrounding it, I decided to investigate the museum and find out the truth behind the claimed hauntings and see if there was any truth to it.

Luckily, all of the ghost hunters had advice for the novice explorer.

“Three rules – don’t be gullible, don’t be gullible, don’t be gullible!” Woodyard said. “Always look for the most natural explanation first.”

“Read everything you can, but don’t believe everything you read,” Pat echoed.

“Have respect for the places you go,” Kachuba said.

So one camera, sweatshirt and two extra batteries later, I felt ready to take on the Historical Museum.

Although normally the museum does not give “ghost tours,” education coordinator for the Museum, Michael McMaster, agreed to show me around the place at night, to share both the history – and legends – of the building and its past. Armed with the knowledge imparted to me from the various paranormal experts, camera, notebook and pen, I began my tour.

The history behind the haunted nature of the building dates back to when it used to be the Wood County Home, a residency for the homeless, orphans, elderly, mentally insane and handicapped, from 1869 to 1971.

The museum itself is home to over 25,000 artifacts, and contains a variety of historical displays, including the severed fingers of a woman who was murdered by her husband.

As we were touring, one of the plausible reasons behind the museums reputation arose. The sheer number of deaths the building has seen over the many years – around 500.

“Though it’s not as bad as you think!” McMaster was quick to say as my jaw dropped. He explained that due to the nature of the house, and the long time of its existence, a higher amount of deaths isn’t that surprising.

Then came the ghost stories, ranging from sightings of a woman in the hallway, a man with a long beard chained to a radiator and visions of a figure who would walk toward the building and then vanish.

“I have never seen anything here though,” McMaster said. The only even slightly odd thing he said he witnessed was the sound of footsteps coming from the empty top of the lunatic house twice during tours.

“That building out there is the slaughter house,” McMaster said pointing out the window. “It still has all of these old tools, meat cleavers and meat hooks in it. It’s like one day everyone working there just dropped all their stuff and walked out and never walked back in again.”

As he jokingly made a comparison of the building as a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style setting, interested as I was in getting the true story, I wasn’t so sure about visiting this place at dark.

As though he read my mind, or perhaps a slight increase of nervousness in my face, he added, “Don’t worry, we won’t go out there at night.”

So far the museum seemed just like any other – interesting, full of history and not haunted. In fact, the only odd occurrences during the tour was an odd burning smell, which we decided was just dust on a radiator, and the faint sound of voices coming from the basement”

“Oh that’s just a radio in the basement,” McMaster said as we both paused upon hearing the sound.

Finally we made our way to the last stop on the tour, the acclaimed “Lunatic House.” One look at the building, and I quickly understood how it got its reputation. As we stepped inside, despite the spooky atmosphere, there were no ghostly figures ” no footsteps ” and no voices. The only scary things I saw all evening were numerous amounts of spiders everywhere.

In fact the only other moderately scary thing was some really creepy stairs, which I did attempt to climb to take a closer look at the upstairs floor. However, due to the darkness of the room, and me being sans flashlight, I decided perhaps I’d just take a quick picture and hurry back downstairs to my car.

Not that I was scared or anything.

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