[GA] Savannah – Haunted Bonaventure Cemetery

view1-gSavannah is one of my favorite cities to visit, and it hosts one of the South’s most beautiful cemeteries.

Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous by the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Sometimes spelled “Bonadventure”, this is a large, eerie cemetery at the bank of the river.

It is well worth a visit when you’re in the Savannah area. The gravestones and monuments in this cemetery are often large, beautifully carved, and unique.

Plan to take a lot of photos, because there are so many plots with art that is worth photographing.

The color in the cemetery tends to look almost monochromatic in the heat of the day. (The photo above is in color, exactly as I took the photo. No colors were adjusted.)

I didn’t observe the same color anomalies in nearby Savannah, either before or after our photo session.

I haven’t had time to investigate the many ghost stories of that cemetery, but my daytime explorations suggest that this is a wonderfully haunted location.

Savannah, Georgia is well worth visiting, whether you’re a ghost hunter or not. Learn more about the many fabulous sides of this lovely city, at The Official Savannah Guide.

If you’re traveling to Atlanta, Georgia, you may enjoy my free map of haunted sites (and where to look for more): Atlanta Ley Lines for Ghost Hunters.

Using a Compass to Measure EMF

This article about EMF and hiking compasses
has been updated from my 2003 original.

compassCan an inexpensive hiking compass detect EMF as well as a $50+ EMF meter?

Until around 1999, I dismissed the idea of using a compass during ghost investigations. Instead, I relied on other ghost hunting equipment.

However, a series of tests with a sturdy $10 Coleman compass surprised me, and a $5 compasses worked nearly as well as my regular EMF meters.

Now, in some settings, I actually prefer to use a hiking compass when I first explore a haunted site.

And, unlike hi-tech equipment with batteries that can fail in haunted settings, the compass always works.

Here’s my background: For years, I was a Girl Scout leader. So, I know that hiking compasses work like gravity. They’re almost 100% reliable with no surprises, as long as you aren’t near something magnetic, a large electrical engine, or major power lines.

Late in 1999 when I was documenting a ghost hunt, I brought my compass to Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, NH. I had only intended to use it to get my bearings when making notes about which geographical corners had appeared the most spectrally active.

When our ghost hunting team arrived, I placed the compass on top of Hannah Robbins’ headstone at the northern end of the cemetery. Her stone appeared to be aligned in a NNE direction, looking towards the carved side of her headstone.

This was what I expected to see, so I didn’t think about it again.

However, while I was comparing anomaly photos with actual grave locations and other landmarks, another ghost hunter and team member, Alan (the one we call “ghostbait”), checked other parts of the cemetery with the compass.

North seemed to move.

In the southern half of the cemetery, the compass showed north in one direction. As Alan walked towards the northern half of the cemetery, the needle swung about 30 degrees and stayed there.

We tested this repeatedly, and the results were consistent.

At the time, this was a very rural location, before a housing development moved in across the street. In 1999, there were no nearby generators or significant power lines.

EMF should only increase in proximity to electrical activity. It has been reported during spectral activity. We don’t know if ghosts cause EMF surges, but at haunted sites, we often find higher EMF readings.

Since Gilson Road Cemetery is profoundly haunted, it should not surprise me that my sturdy, non-nonsense compass reacted to energy there. But it did.

On return visits and ghost hunts, day or night, we’ve seen anomalous compass readings at Gilson Road Cemetery and most other “haunted” locations.

Since then, we’ve used a compass on several Hollow Hill investigations. Now, we highly recommend a compass in your basic ghost hunting kit, for fun if nothing else.

Guidelines for compass use in “haunted” locations, and during ghost hunts:

  • Use only compasses with free-swinging needles. If the needle tends to get stuck pointing in one direction, it’s not helpful.
  • Before you start walking, line up North so the red part (or point) of the needle is over the arrow painted on the compass.
  • Learn to use the compass in a not haunted site, first. Your backyard is a good place, if there are no electrical wires nearby (underground and overhead, too).
  • The first time you try this, walk in as straight a line as possible, directly towards North or towards South.
  • Expect the needle to bob and bounce as you walk. This is normal. However, when you pause, it should always return to North.
  • Keep the compass as flat as possible. If you hold it an an angle, your reading may not be accurate or the needle may become stuck.
  • If North seems to move, pause. Check how you’re holding the compass. North NEVER changes direction!
  • Debunk odd readings if you can. Look for interference from magnetic deposits (a metal detector can help) and from electrical sources, including power lines. They will “attract” the compass’ needle.
  • This is worth repeating: North NEVER changes its location. Even a slight 10-degree shift is an anomaly, if you’ve eliminated all other influences. Profoundly haunted sites can show unexplained needle-swings of up to 90 degrees.
  • If you think you have an anomaly, retrace your steps. See if the compass anomaly repeats. Usually, it will… but only for awhile.
  • Check again on another day. Unfortunately for documentation purposes, a genuine haunting is unlikely to repeat the compass anomalies in the same places, day after day. (One that does repeat is more likely electrical or magnetic interference with the compass’ action.)

[FL] Real Haunted Places in Florida

Florida has an interesting history, and the ghost stories to go with it.  Here are just a few haunts I’ve explored in sunny (and sometimes not-so-sunny) Florida.

Cassadaga: Cassadaga Spiritualist Settlement

I’d heard good reports of Cassadaga for ghost hunting. It has a long history of Spiritualism… and spirits. However, during my first visit, the Cassadaga did not seem profoundly haunted.

I’ll give the community a second chance, and visit Cassadaga for another investigation. Sometimes an area offers more on a second visit.

2016 update: I did return to Cassadaga, and had an opportunity to investigate a couple of buildings. Both seemed to have their own, unique spirits.

The Cassadaga visitors’ center has some good material, including free literature in their conference room (just before you reach the rest room entrances). And, it is a lovely setting if you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk, browsing New Age shops and consulting psychics.

I took many pictures at Cassadaga on a rainy day, and what’s notable is what we didn’t get on film: Orbs.

With that kind of moisture in the air, I should have had dozens — if not hundreds — of orbs. Is that an anomaly? I don’t know. It reminds me of the damp evening at The Myrtles, when Margaret Byl and I photographed no orbs at all.

Odd.

If you walk to the edge of Spirit Lake towards the middle of town, you’ll see a wooded area with trails to your left. If any part of Cassadaga remains haunted, it’s probably those woods.

While you’re visiting Cassadaga, there is a cemetery just outside the town line, due west, possibly on Kicklighter Road. I had just a few minutes to visit it, and plan to return to collect more information, but — on our first visit — this cemetery seemed far more haunted than nearby Cassadaga.

Cassadaga Spiritualist Settlement is about 30 miles north of Orlando, just off Hwy 4. settlement websitespirit tours

Orlando area: Rouse Road Cemetery

Legend claims that the small, rural cemetery on Rouse Road and nearby woods are haunted by a ghost from the 1840s, Benjamin Miles, whose nightly presence is signalled by an owl screeching. Mr. Miles, often in tan-colored work clothes, was buried in an unmarked grave, and is an angry ghost.

I visited this cemetery during the day, and while my photos didn’t capture anything significant, I can confirm that there is a strong, unsettling presence there.

In my photos:

  • In the top photo, even the cheerful flowers couldn’t seem to lift the heavy energy in this cemetery.
  • In the middle photo, there is a huge tree in this cemetery, and it seems to hold some strange energy. The area around it feels angry and perhaps even malicious.
  • The lower photo shows some of the toppled headstones, now sunken into the ground.

Individuals who scare easily, or new ghost hunters, should probably avoid this location. It feels profoundly hostile.

Rouse Road Cemetery is in a rural setting, between 3400 & 3621 Rouse Road, Orlando, Florida, on the MapQuest.com maps. It is a gated cemetery, and I recommend only daytime visits. Check local laws and cemetery hours before planning a night visit.

 

Orlando theme parks

Almost every theme or amusement park has urban legends, including attractions that supposedly have ghosts. I cannot verify these tales, but include them as anecdotes:

Universal Studios theme park, Orlando: Reports of a small, hooded ghost with glowing red eyes, at one attraction.  It’s such a cliche, I don’t take that seriously.  For all I know, it was a child in an Ewok costume or something.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom: At least two different reports of ghosts at — of course — Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Also, some people report a ghost in slightly-dated clothing, strolling in front of the castle at the end of Main Street.  Pirates of the Caribbean used to have a ghost or two in the early 2000s, but I’ve heard no reports of hauntings there, more recently.

Disney/MGM Studios: At least one ghost reported at Disney’s Tower of Terror, in the lobby. Watch for fluttering movements in areas not affected by the fans.  I’ve seen that phenomenon myself, but I’m not sure it indicates anything paranormal.

If you can add more to these legends, let us know. I’m looking for first-person sightings only. (In other words, I want to know what you have seen or witnessed, not a story that you heard from someone. Thanks.)

Orlando: I-4 “Dead Zone”

There’s an overpass on I-4 that’s supposed to be very haunted and have more than an average number of accidents. It’s just north of Orlando, at the St. John’s River in Seminole County. According to legend, the highway was built over the graves of Yellow Fever victims, who lived (and died) at St. Joseph’s Colony, established on this site in 1887.

In the daytime, the intersection has some strange energy, but how much of that is due to it being a shabby neighborhood? (Or, is it a faltering neighborhood because it’s too haunted for businesses to thrive there? It should be prime real estate.)

If anyone has more first-person information, let us know. I do not recommend investigating this area on your own, and particularly not at night.

And, do not slow down, drive irregularly, or park on the road (or roadside) and contribute even more to the high number of accidents at this intersection.

[NH] Nashua – Gilson Road Cemetery – Odd Flowers

A photographer contacted us on 20 Apr 2002 to report three daffodils tied to a sagging tree branch towards the back of Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH.

I visited, and he was right about the flowers.  Those are the flowers in the photo, below.  (The branches and rocks aren’t really purple.  It’s just the color of the light, the day I took this picture.)

flowers at Gilson

Why would someone do this? There are several possibilities.

3 flowers at Gilson - another angleOne is for sentimental reasons; there are many unmarked graves at the back of Gilson Road Cemetery.  Someone might know who’s in one of those graves, or feel a connection with one of the rumored ghosts back there.

Perhaps this was done for respect.  After all, it’s a nice thing to do in remembrance of the many people in marked and unmarked graves at this rural cemetery.

Perhaps someone found some flowers and just wanted to do something quirky.

Maybe they used them in a photograph. (I’m pleased with my own photos of the flowers.)

Or, perhaps some prankster thought this would be something strange and noteworthy to do. We’ve seen a lot of that, and generally ignore the efforts.

[NH] Hollis – Blood cemetery – Odd, Misty Photograph

In an earlier post about Blood Cemetery, I described an unusual daytime photo with a ‘ghost orb’ in it.

On that same day, at least one other photo was odd.

misty photo at Blood Cemetery
Misty looking photo on a crisp, sunny day. (Blood Cemetery, Hollis, NH)

The black-and-white photo above looks like it was taken on a dreary, misty New England day.

However, our photographer shot it at about 3 p.m. the same day as the rest of the photos on this page, when the sun was still bright and the sky was nearly cloudless.

There was no fog or mist at the graveyard. The trees were nearly leafless, so this wasn’t taken in a shadow.

The cemetery was grassy, with no dusty areas to create a hazy image. It was a warm day (60 degrees F), so there was no mist from the photographer’s breath, and no ground fog.

The photo below — from the same roll of film in the same camera — shows the contrast of the light and the depth-of-field from this camera. This crisp photo was taken within three minutes of the misty-looking one, and no more than thirty feet away in identical lighting conditions.

This is a slightly baffling anomaly. It’s not enough evidence to call Blood Cemetery ‘haunted’, but it’s intriguing. That makes me want to return for further research.

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