Columbia Avenue or Jackson Street? There is always some debate as to which street is more haunted.
I would have to say, it is probably a tie. Both streets have long histories, although Jackson Street predates Columbia Avenue by a hundred years or more. When it comes to place-centered hauntings, history tends to play a big role. However, in Cape May, hauntings can also follow an old business adage: location, location, location. Ghosts were once people. They can be drawn to a peaceful setting. Cape May has lots of positive energy, and I feel that is the main reason there are so many ghosts. Think about it. If you were a ghost, and had a chance for an extended, rent-free vacation in Cape May, what would you do? Many of the ghosts of Cape May originally summered in town when they were alive. Summer never ends for these long-term guests.
Many years ago, I had a few friends who bought an old home on Columbia and changed it from guest apartments to Bed & Breakfast. My passion for ghosts and my ability to communicate with Spirits of deceased loved ones was what originally drew us together as friends. On many occasions, I would spend a weekend in Cape May at their B&B, and once nightfall came, the topic of conversation would eventually become talk of ghosts in the house, which would next lead to me doing an impromptu channeling session in the parlor. We spent many nights trying to communicate with one of the resident ghosts. The problem was that her energy was fading away. She was difficult to reach.
As a Medium, I have the ability to make mind-to-mind contact with other souls. Even without bodies, souls have a consciousness and personality. Ghosts are earthbound souls. They have something keeping them tethered to their former stomping grounds. Each soul is different. Like every living person who has a unique personality, ghosts are individuals as well. They actually retain their earthly personalities in the afterlife. Some ghosts are warm and personable to a Medium, while others want nothing to do with the living. Some earthbound souls want to communicate, while some will not, and then there are those who do not seem to be able to sense the living at all. These ghosts seem to be stuck in a perpetual dream-state.
The ghost at the former Inn at Journeys End, now the Bacchus Cottage, was so wrapped up in her own personal drama that she probably did not even hear my psychic doorbell ringing in her head. Luckily, for me, when I turn on my psychic senses and throw out a line of communication, it tends to pull others in from nearby locations. Each time started our séance, the ghost of a jovial, older man waltzed in through the front wall (why bother with a door if you are a ghost?) and announced his arrival. He told me his name was Walter, and he came because he enjoyed good wine, and good cheese, and none was being served across the street where he was haunting.
Ghosts can sense what we taste, smell, hear, and see. They have the ability to tap into our thoughts and experience our senses. Spirits of loved ones will also report this same phenomenon when I channel for clients. A beloved, deceased grandfather may still enjoy a taste of his favorite birthday cake, enjoyed by the living. It is almost like ghosts and Spirits can stick a big straw into our minds and suck out our experiences, right after we finish with them. Walter had come to us from the Linda Lee, a B&B located on the north side of Columbia Avenue. The Victorian Carpenter Gothic home was built in 1872 for the Benezet family, who were local merchants in town. Walter felt more recent in energy than the Benezets, who had been gone for almost a century. Queries to the former owners of the Linda Lee produced a light acknowledgment of a ghost in the house. Footsteps were heard on the stairs and “something” would act up from time to time, but activity was minimal at best. Obviously, Walter liked to haunt elsewhere, but used the Linda Lee as his home base.
Many years later, I was introduced to the Linda Lee’s new owners, Archie and Stephanie Kirk. I met them at their latest acquisition, the Bedford on Stockton Avenue, but the topic of conversation quickly came back to their other property, the Linda Lee. Without mentioning my previous encounter with Walter, I joined them one afternoon for a visit on Columbia Avenue. As I walked throughout the house, I did sense the presence of a male ghost, and that of a female ghost. The woman gave me the impression that she was a servant of the house, the man left me with nothing at all. He was not open to communicating. I could see him in my mind, but there was no dialogue after the image.
We sat around the dining room table in the ornately and beautifully decorated Victorian cottage. Cape May has some of the most beautiful haunted houses I have ever visited. Sitting inside the Linda Lee is like going back in time to the Victorian age. Archie and Stephanie, now good friends of mine, have always been into the whole Victorian thing, and they do it very well. At some point, as we sat in deep conversation at the table, I started to sense someone entering the dining room from the parlor. I must have had that kind of look on my face. Archie said to me, don’t tell me there is a ghost here. Stephanie was less fond of ghosts and I was afraid to say anything, as I barely knew the Kirks. Suddenly, something pushed me to blurt out “Yes, and his name is Walter and he likes good wine and cheese”.
Archie quickly responded with a “You gotta be kidding!” He said as he shook his head and reached for a notebook in the sideboard of the dining room.
As he flipped through the pages, Stephanie added, “There isn’t a Walter in the house’s history is there Arch?” Indeed there was. A man with the first name of Walter had sold the house in 1977. Archie thought he had passed away. Had we found our Walter?
I was elated to have found a connection. Even without knowing if Archie’s Walter was the wine and cheese Walter, the name coincidence was just too good. I made plans to stay at the Linda Lee in the near future, and that’s when all the fun started.
Stephanie’s daughter Julie Walter and her boyfriend (now husband) Matt Scassero had taken over as innkeepers the following year. Willy and I, along with our friend Gerry Eisenhauer, had booked a weekend stay. I was researching haunts for The Ghosts of Cape May Book 3, and I needed an up close and personal with the Linda Lee. Encountering the ghosts through the walls of a neighboring B&B was just not good enough for a story. To experience a haunting, one must stay in a haunted house, and have the fortunate timing to have the ghost or ghosts be active during that particular stay. It is possible to stay in a haunted place and never experience the ghost. Timing is everything with a haunt.
Willy, Gerry, and I decided to conduct a séance late that Friday night. Matt made the mistake of arriving late to set up the breakfast dishes for the next morning, just as my channeling session got underway. He was sucked in to the whole paranormal experience. I think he finally set the table about three hours later, when we were all done.
I slipped into a relaxed state of mind and focused my thoughts on the house in search of ghosts. It was not long before someone saying, “Did you hear that”, disturbed my concentration. It seems this has become the catch phrase of paranormal investigations. This time it was appropriate because an initial thump-thump sound was followed by footsteps coming down the stairs―slowly and carefully, as if someone was stopping after each step to hear if they had been detected. I could sense the group starting to get a little apprehensive. Suddenly, a cold breeze moved into the room from the front foyer. The air then fell still and the footsteps ceased.
I know when I make contact with a ghost while I am in a trance state. I can still hear and sense things in the room around me, but I start to feel like I am falling backward, very slowly, in the chair in which I am sitting. It reminds me of being in the dentist’s chair as a kid, and getting high on nitrous oxide. As my mind starts floating, I feel it encountering another presence in the room. This time it was with a woman named Mary.
During the trance session, Mary began to speak using my vocal chords. I am still very much in control of my body during a trance, but become one with the ghostly conversation. First, I start to repeat what I hear the ghost telling me. Next, the ghost is actually speaking through my voice. It is like someone turning your head to tell you where to look. In my case, they are telling me what to say. The entire process feels very natural, and ends when I want it to end, or when the ghost has said its piece.
Mary seemed tired and worn out by years of trying to keep the house in order. I felt she had worked on Columbia Avenue for a long time—possibly since the time of the Benezets. Nevertheless, what would ghosts have to clean? Do they experience a different physical world that overlaps our own? If Mary was a servant at the house, does she stay out of allegiance to another ghost? Why on Earth would anyone want to clean a house for 140 years? Or is it that she loves Cape May and stays where she once resided? With every haunting comes a slew of unanswered questions.
Mary eventually moved off into the shadows of the house. I sensed a few ghosts out in the street, but decided to break off the trance. After the channeling session, we moved upstairs to the second floor. Someone in the house had reported seeing some kind of “ball of light” in a particular doorway. The person was not sure what it could have been, but felt there was a paranormal cause behind it. Gerry, armed with a brigade of ghost hunting equipment, set up a few meters to measure EMF fields on the floor in the bedroom doorway. At first, the meters barely registered anything. I have never had much success with ghost hunting equipment of this type. My feeling is that we do not have equipment to measure a ghost’s energy. We don’t even know what ghosts are made of, so how can we create equipment to measure them?
I decided to let the ghost or ghosts know what we were doing. I thought the information, and spoke it at the same time. Ghosts do not have ears, so I assume mind-to-mind is how they communicate. To be safe, I gave them both psychic and verbal instructions. I asked the ghosts of the house to move into the doorway and somehow affect the meters on the floor. Within seconds the stairs leading up to the second floor started to creak. The slow, clapping footsteps began to descend to our level. Something was joining us in the experimenting. I repeated the request. Move into the doorway and set off the EMF meters. Suddenly, the meters started to jump. Normally registering only 0.1 or 0.5, the meters jumped to 5 and then 10. They were stationary on the floor, and no one in the group was moving. I asked the ghosts to step away from the meter, and the meters returned to zero. We repeated this experiment several time more, finally producing an off the charts reading of 37! Finally, as if tired of our games, the stairs creaked again in all directions and the meters fell silent.
I never had any particular feeling if it was Walter or Mary taking part in our experiment. I never heard much from Walter on those visits. Maybe he is haunting one of the Cape May wineries now. Mary seemed much more connected to the house. She loved the place. Her connection could be that simple. She may haunt because she loves where she lived and does not want to move on to Heaven.
The results of the paranormal energy field test were, in my opinion, better than anything I had seen in all the years I have been investigating ghosts. Better in the “ghost hunting using equipment” department that is. I hold very little hope for ghost hunting equipment, with the exception of running audio recordings to try to capture EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). I think the best way to find ghosts is with the help of a skilled and gifted Medium.
We checked the floor above and the floor below to find an explanation of what could have produced surges in the meters at the exact times I would ask the ghosts to move. No logical explanation could be found. Ghosts, being fields of some form of energy, must have the ability to affect other fields of energy. In this case, they were quite obliging to help us in our paranormal study. If only all ghost investigations were this fruitful—and easy.
The Linda Lee is a fabulous B&B. I would highly recommend spending a weekend or a week relaxing there, and enjoying all that Cape May has to offer. You can visit them at their website here. If you go looking for ghosts, pick the off-season in the winter or early spring. Some hauntings are very subtle, and with a town full of noisy tourists buzzing about, you will probably have very few paranormal encounters. Unless, of course, you should happen to bring a good bottle of wine, and nice hunk of cheese, then Walter may just be willing to help you with that investigation!
To read more about the ghosts of the Linda Lee, buy The Ghosts of Cape May Book 3 or my latest book, 400 Years of the Ghosts of Cape May.
You can also read more about what I do by visiting craigmcmanus.com. Have a great July!