Over the last few months, I have been trying out different applications on phones and computers related to ghost hunting in an attempt to debunk which ones are gimmicks, and which ones may be legitimate. While all of them provide the disclaimer that none of the results can be scientifically verified, some seem to be pretty accurate in detecting when a spirit may be present. I have stood out on a limb as a paranormal investigator and claimed that the “Ghost Radar” app that many people have on their phones is in fact real, despite many people just fooling around with it, or letting their children play with it thinking it is just a game. Well, in my time at the Proprietary House, as well as trips to the Spy House and Rose Hill Cemetery, I can say that this app is not the gimmick everyone claims. While the actual radar blips themselves may not be a hundred percent accurate, I believe the words that appear, the result of ghostly communication, are real. Too many times incidents have occurred that aligns with what comes up on screen. There is also another program people can download, this time for their computers, which serves as a ghost detector, called “XParanormal”, produced by Extreme Senses Software. Both operate in much the same way, using the various sensors and wi-fi scanners inside the mechanism to detect changes in the electromagnetic field, and allow ghosts to speak. However, I feel that xParanormal is a little bit more precise, mainly because a laptop is more capable, and because EMF changes and words occur far fewer times, and when they do, they appear to be less random.
File this under paranormal (or abnormal). As you all know, I try to stay away from religion on here as much as humanly possible, but this is just too fascinating to pass up. I also wanted to beat the History Channel to this.
I must admit, I was as shocked as anyone when I heard that Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign in two weeks. Ironically enough, I first caught wind of it on a New York sports-talk radio show, and initially thought they were joking or I misheard them in the wee morning hours. After quickly switching to CNN to see if there was something to it, I was really quite perplexed. Sick or not, mentally incapable or not, the Pope is supposed to remain Pope until his death. That’s why there is only one of them at a time. Remember John Paul II, seriously ill and frail for years, yet he still hung on? Why? Because that was his duty. To work, serve, and pray until it was his time to go. Perhaps there is something fishy here? Two weeks notice for resigning from the Papacy (the first time in 600 years this has happened; Columbus had not even voyaged across the Atlantic to genocide the natives yet), the most widely recognized office in the world, and one of the most followed? To put that into perspective, I had to give two weeks notice for quitting my summer job when I was 16, and that was only pushing carts at a local farmer’s market. This leads me to believe that Pope Benny the Quitter is either much more sick than he is letting on, and is close to death, and has announced this so the College of Cardinals has a heads-up on the election, or that there is a scandal about to be revealed so groundbreaking, that he wanted to attempt to protect the church by stepping away from it. Odd as it is, for the sake of Catholics in the world, let us hope it is neither, and try to have some fun with this. [Insert explosive and destructive prophecy here.]
If there is one thing I have learned after doing paranormal investigations for a little more than three years, it is that any place can be haunted. Usually, we associate places where the act of dying physically occured, or for a residual effect, the place where one felt extreme emotion in life and decided to return there and “haunt” it in death. Because of this, I never gave much thought to cemeteries actually being haunted, because, quite frankly, no one ever dies there. They can be very creepy, and walking amongst an area where hundreds or thousands of dead bodies are buried is not really too pleasant, no matter how peaceful the location. However, Rose Hill Cemetery in Matawan, New Jersey, with graves dating back to the early 1700′s has long been rumored to be haunted, with some apparently crazy stuff that goes on—the time of day not seeming to matter. Rumor has it that the cemetery is a hot spot for EVP recordings, ghostly visions, and orbs and ectoplasm appearing in photographs. Now, this description could be for a lot of so-called haunted locations, but because I am always game for an adventure, and have my own posse of friends, students, and hockey players who have recently been diagnosed with the paranormal bug, we decided that yesterday, we would give old Rose Hill a visit to put these legends to the test. Is it really haunted? Well, just keep on reading.
Call it fate, irony, or a little bit of both, but the Spy House still stands in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, not being the victim of any apparent damage, at least not that I could see from the pier parking lot, as I could not get any closer yesterday due to the property being roped off. As I was passing through the area with a friend, I just could not help but ask him to take the drive down to see if the house was still there. Sure enough, just as I knew in my gut (call me crazy, but I don’t think the spirits there would allow for its destruction), the 262 year old establishment also known as the Seabrook-Wilson House and Bayshore Waterfront Activity Center was still standing tall, in the middle of an area that was completely leveled. To my amazement, though located about fifty feet from the beach, it did not appear to even have a broken window. This is obviously great news for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts, as the house in rich in both history, lore, legends, and hauntings. I guess it is safe to say that the house is going to be here for a while longer, its survival being a testament to how great construction was back then.
What would Halloween season be without a ghost tour at a historic site? Though we at the Proprietary House have been sizing down the paranormal events of late, to focus more on history, we continue our annual tradition once again this October, in welcoming world-renowned psychic Jane Doherty to our establishment, to conduct her highly anticipated tours through the halls of the now 250-year-old mansion, the former resident of Benjamin Franklin’s son William. The house has been home to many intriguing characters, including Franklin, who served as Royal Governor of the colony until his arrest at the house in 1776. After that, it was owned by a man named John C. Rattoon, an early mayor of the city of Perth Amboy, and a British spy during the Revolutionary War. Following him came Richard Woodhull, who added an adjoining building and turned it into a hotel named the Brighton in the early 1800′s. Later still came Matthias Bruen, a self-made millionaire merchant, who attempted to restore the hotel to its former glory in 1817, after some years of disrepair. When the mansion was no longer owned by the Bruen family, it served a multitude of tasks, including an orphanage, retirement home for Presbyterian ministers, and then a hospital for officers after the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. The house then went through many periods of neglect and resurrection, and is currently owned by the State of New Jersey’s Division of Parks and Forestry, while being maintained by the Proprietary House Association and a board of trustees, of which I am a member.
Let me first preface this by saying that every summer since we graduated high school, on a night where my friend Brett Bodner and I are together, something very strange has happened, usually involving power outages, but is not limited to one strange occurrence per summer. Two years ago, in late August, the two of us took what was going to be a five-minute car ride, to a nearby Target to look at some furniture for his apartment, when suddenly, the power went out. No big deal, right? Except that the human race is so inept when out of their comfort zone, and something so simple as being without electricity for a few hours would drive them to madness. We have become a despicable group of people, who function like chickens who have just been decapitated at a Purdue factory and are stumbling around in their last fleeting seconds before becoming food, when we are without something we think we need.
It may have taken a few weeks, but we finally found out exactly who, or what, has been haunting our house. As it turns out, the entity is not human at all, but a cat. Yes, that’s right: we have ourselves a ghost cat. Now, this may come as a surprise to those who are not heavily involved with the paranormal, but let me tell you, I really was not that shocked when my mom told me what she saw one afternoon. Then when I saw it along with a friend the next day, I was completely sold. So anyway, yes, cats can have spirits. We actually have one at the Proprietary House. It came out one time during a séance, when people sitting around the table felt a cat curling up against their legs, winding in and out, one at a time. It also shows up every now and then, as one of our trustees, who has a severe allergy to cats, begins to cough and sneeze out of nowhere, before the fit goes away as quickly as it came.
I’m no stranger to the paranormal. I consider myself a veteran now, who can withstand even the most strangest of occurrences, but that happened to go out the window and unnerve me when something happened a lot closer to home, and by that, I mean my home.
Last Thursday, it was seven in the morning and my mom was downstairs in the kitchen. I was still sleeping and my dad was in the shower, and my mom had just finished plating a tray of cookies that she wanted to wrap up with colored string. She went into the closet to get it, being very careful as to not let our cat Lawrence see it, since he loves string and would be jumping all over the place. However, he was busy staring out the window at the birds and squirrels in the living room, which you can see into from the kitchen, though there is a half-wall divider that separates the two rooms. She wrapped up the tray and put it to the side, leaving the leftover string sitting crumpled up on the counter. She had to go upstairs to do something, so knowing that Lawrence did not see the string come out, and even if he did, he would not be able to see up onto the counter to get it, she left the string and went upstairs.
I was never one to actually sit down and read a horoscope. Whenever I read through a newspaper, I go right to the sports section and then backtrack to the front to see which one of our politicians has said or done something stupid on that particular day. The horoscope section is almost always passed over, except for when I might laugh something off. I know there are many people who take these readings for the gospel, hanging on their every word of prediction, and that is their prerogative, but for me, it was nothing but nonsense, until, that is, I sat down and read through one of the many books I have in the Time Life best-selling series from the 1980′s and 90′s called Mysteries of the Unknown, the book in particular being “Cosmic Connections”. I have written about this set before, because they are so factual and enthralling, something very rarely accomplished today when dealing with the supernatural or unexplained. Authors seem to sacrifice fact for entertainment, or vice versa, but this series tends to have it all in each edition. Anyway, as I was flipping through the chapters on the different mysteries there are between people and becoming in tune with the universe, I came to a lavishly illustrated section on horoscopes, one for each sign. I went to the Cancer section, my sign, since I was born on July 2, and began reading. I thought to myself, if I was ever going to read something about this stuff, this would be it. Then, I read a few sentences that really caught my attention.
Go to any book store in the country and look at their magazine section, and sure enough, you will find an issue of Weird N.J staring you in the face. It is truly amazing how much the weirdness of this state has captivated audiences around the world for more than twenty years. I always like to joke around with people, saying that New Jersey is very weird, and it’s not just the people who live here. On a more serious note, we can graciously thank the co-authors and publishers of the semi-annual magazine, Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, for bringing the strange tales, legends, and more importantly for me, creepy history, behind the small towns of New Jersey, into the public eye; stories you would never be able to read or find elsewhere, or even think up in your wildest dreams. People are fascinated by our weird history, so much so that in 2004, the authors of this publication expanded their horizons for a book called Weird U.S, which went around to different states, with the same theme as their original series, which also became a compilation published as a book in 2003. Soon after the publication of Weird U.S, Moran and Sceurman were given a show of the same name by the History Channel, which lasted for two seasons, and went on to explore haunted and weird areas all over the country.
Since then, they have put out many different books, specializing on individual states besides New Jersey, with their latest coming out last May, on Tennessee. I was very happy to have been able to conduct an interview with one of the authors, Mark Moran, here today. We were first in contact about a year ago because of my paranormal work at the haunted Proprietary House in New Jersey. After all that time, though, I finally decided to actually ask him for an interview, and he was kind enough to accept the request. Below is our conversation, and he really gives us some fascinating back-story on the publication, methods, and where it all began. Enjoy: