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home : opinion : opinion December 9, 2019

10/29/2019 12:11:00 AM
Ghost Season Is Back

Tammy Wilson
Guest Columnist

Who’s had a ghostly experience?

I asked that question recently while speaking to a local church group. Some bravely raised their hands, including myself.

Most every culture shares some concept of the spirit world. Most attribute the experiences to people who have passed on and are somehow able to re-appear to the living. While many consider such apparitions to be figments of the imagination, as many as 45% of Americans believe in ghosts, according to a recent Huff Post/YouGov poll.

A survey by suggests about 30% are open to living in a haunted house while 42% said they wouldn’t consider it. I assume the latter group is among the 45% in the previous survey.

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Ghosts are apparitions, haunts, phantoms, specters, spooks, reputed to be the soul of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. Too bad the surveys didn’t ask the ghost deniers if they would be willing to spend the night in a cemetery.

I’ve had some eerie encounters over the years. Haven’t we all? Those pops ad cracks of the house settling, unexplained cold spots, orbs, sounds that resemble voices, that feeling of being watched when you’re alone.

As a college student, I lived one semester in a 240-year-old townhouse. Laundry was done in the basement—usually alone and at night. On more than one occasion, I remember making a quick exit, because I always felt someone was watching me. Long after the semester ended, I learned that the house was indeed haunted.

I’m no expert on the paranormal, but over time I’ve come to accept that there are some things we cannot explain.

Take Historic Rosedale, for example. It’s a 200-year-old plantation house in North Charlotte that’s reputed to be inhabited by ghosts. Several years ago, I was invited to an after-hours tour by the executive director, who’s an old friend. While visiting the attic space that had once been used as a classroom, three of us felt an electrical current tingle up and down our backs, much like electric pulses from a TENS system.

If that’s not freaky enough, consider the kitchen herbs. Rosedale’s original kitchen was an open-hearth affair in the basement. To re-create the historic atmosphere, curators have hung sprigs of dried herbs from the rafters. That day and every visit since, the herbs have independently swayed, twirled and quivered from their hanging places. Some turn in opposite directions at the same time. You can’t make this stuff up.

Rosedale’s ghosts are no secret, by the way. The site hosts haunted history tours and paranormal investigations. More info:

I encountered my first cold spots while visiting at the Surratt House, home of Mary Surratt, a convicted conspirator in the Lincoln assassination plot. She was the first woman ever to be executed by the federal government.

Guests on our tour were invited to the attic space to see where some of the conspirators had hidden their carbine rifles.

“The attic will be very hot and uncomfortable,” the guide warned.

I braced myself, expecting stifling heat, only to be startled by a temperature that resembled a meat locker.

There must be something about me and ghost-infested attics, but during that visit I also felt an ice-cold spot in the dining room on a day when everyone else was complaining about the heat.

By the way, the Surratt House is part of the John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour, a must for American history buffs. The 12-hour tour starts at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, where Booth shot Lincoln, and ends at the site of the Garrett Farm near Bowling Green, VA, where Booth died. Participants must book well in advance through the Surratt Society in Clinton MD. For more information, check this link:

---Tammy Wilson is a writer from Newton. Message her at

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