If you’re looking for hidden haunts, here’s a tip: Start with people. Dead people. They’re among the most overlooked resources in ghost hunting.
I don’t mean famous people from your community’s past. I mean outsiders. As a group, they’re far more likely to linger as ghosts than, say, a former mayor.
Who are the “outsiders”? They’re people considered different, outcasts, or – for any reason – routinely shut out of everyday society.
Every associated location has the potential to be haunted.
Don’t be deceived into thinking ghosts are from just one era or just one community.
For example, don’t default to “it must have been a Native American burial ground,” without solid research to support that.
In many cases – such as the Amityville horror house – the Native American legend may be true, but it may be just a trope.
More recent outsider groups have left residual energy where they lived, worked, and died, too. Some spirits linger, haunting those sites.
Don’t overlook them.
To find outsider locations, explore the area’s history. Usually, you need only go back to the 19th century to discover a community’s secrets. Maybe not even that far.
But, in some areas, research earlier times, as well. You might strike gold by digging deeper. (No pun intended.)
Look for groups or individuals the community may have disdained, rejected, shunned, or locked up, such as:
- Mentally ill people
- People with dangerous, contagious diseases in their era (plague, leprosy, tuberculosis)
- Religious and ethnic minorities
- Hobos and homeless or destitute people
- Any group the community felt were a burden on their generosity, or worrisome, or a risk to citizens
If you look only for stereotypes, history may surprise you.
For example, in the U.S., during colonial times, Catholics were outcasts. Priests were thrown into prison and even executed, just for being Catholic priests. (Don’t expect to find their graves in hallowed ground. In fact, don’t expect to find their graves… period and full stop.)
Those are the kinds of shameful incidents many communities omit from their public histories.
Study old newspapers to learn the truth… and find related haunted places. Sometimes victims’ spirits linger, waiting to be exonerated.
Once you’ve identified those labeled “outsiders,” start looking for locations associated with them. If you can, focus on sites where dramatic events and tragedies occurred. Some may be well-known haunts.
For example, almost every community has a site that was once a burial ground for a jail/prison, workhouse (poorhouse), or hospital. Most people know about them, and – typically – those locations report paranormal activity. They’re always worth investigating, as long as you don’t expect much.
Note: From my experience, well-known haunts can be disappointing. I believe ghostly energy – particularly residual energy hauntings – can (sometimes) be diluted when the site is visited by hundreds or thousands of ghost hunters and tourists.
For better investigations, cast a wider net and look deeper. Explore locations that others overlook.
In my next article in this series, I’ll go into more detail. For now, start learning more about the secret history of your community.
Maybe it was a red-light district. Perhaps, during Prohibition, your community had speakeasies. Or, part of town was “the wrong side of the tracks,” but it’s been so gentrified in recent times, most people have forgotten it… or choose to pretend it never existed.
The starting point is usually identifying the outsiders, as groups of people treated as outcasts.
Then, for each outcast or group, explore their everyday lives:
- Where did they live?
- Where did they work?
- When criminal activity was involved, where did it happen?
- Where were they buried?
You’ll start uncovering likely haunts. Almost every community has them, and – sometimes – they’re hiding in plain sight.
Next article in this series: How to Find Haunted “Outsider” Sites