Love, Hate, Vengeance, and Ghosts

Love, hate, vengeance, and ghostsLove and ghosts… do they go together? Maybe, but not as I’d expected.

Of course, paranormal romances are popular. Usually, the hero (the love interest) is a ghost, trapped here or with unfinished business.

A (living) woman falls in love with him, and – after overcoming many obstacles – there’s a “happily ever after” at the conclusion.

That’s not what I’ve encountered at haunted sites.

Oh, there’s the occasional handsome, male ghost. He’s not looking for romance. Not in this plane of existence, anyway.

But… are any ghosts here, looking for love, or seeking a “lost” lover from their past?

Perhaps. I’m not sure.

Most haunted places feature themes related to money, power struggles, drama, or tragedy. (I’d always figured love was part of “drama.” Love might fit the tragedy trope, too.)

Female ghosts seem to have the most romantic connections… but rarely in a happy way.

Using “love” and “romance” as general terms, I’ve identified three romance-related categories.

  1. Ghosts of rejected and mistreated women. Some aren’t ready to let go of the past.
  2. Female spirits who continue to protect the homes they lived in, or their descendants.
  3. Happy, ghostly couples, haunting places where they socialized and partied.

Sad and Angry Female Ghosts

Many female ghosts were driven to their deaths, or even murdered. Most cases involved a man.

The most iconic might be the Japanese ghost of Oiwa-San. After her husband poisoned her and married a rich merchant’s daughter, Oiwa got her revenge in a particularly ugly way. The new wife died, and – in some versions of the story – the husband did not fare well, either.

But, though Oiwa-san died in 1636, her ghost lingers, and – even today – she may curse people. The evidence is unsettling. (Research it at your own risk. I’ve included links at the foot of this article.)

In England, a young girl in a white dress haunts Hiorne Tower, at Arundel Castle. She threw herself off a tower, and – apparently – continues to do so, many nights, especially around the new moon. Hers was a case of unrequited love.

Note: I’ve heard very few stories of haunted “lovers’ leaps.” If love was such a powerful element in hauntings, shouldn’t there be more, similar tales?

At Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, Ms. Wharton mutters in her library. It’s practically a stage whisper. (I’ve heard it.) In French, she’s complaining about her husband.

The following is a video of Jeff Belanger discussing the hauntings at The Mount, and part of it is filmed in the library. (Ms. Cox says that no one hears voices there. I heartily disagree.)

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/kSngQFZZrBI

Something curious in that interview: Ms. Cox describes Henry James sitting in that library, as well. Two generations of my family had a close, often daily connection with Henry James and his family. I’m wondering if that connection is one reason I heard a voice in that room.

In Louisiana, a ghost called Chloe appears, usually outside the Myrtles Plantation’s main house. There’s no truth to the story of her poisoning the two children. But, she’s such a solid apparition, people have photographed her in full daylight. Perhaps she’s angry at being accused of (and remembered for) something vicious, when she was entirely innocent.

California’s Hotel del Coronado is where you’ll find Mrs. Morgan’s famous ghost. Is she looking for her husband? He was a conman and ruthless gambler. After seven years of marriage, Kate Morgan checked into the hotel alone as “Lottie A. Bernard.” Then, she bought a gun. Four days later, they found her shot through the head, on a path to the beach. The verdict was suicide. Later investigations suggest the bullet didn’t match the gun found in her hand.

This one-minute video is a little theatrical, but it shows the hotel room and the beach that Kate Morgan haunts.

The Kate Morgan video is at https://youtu.be/Vv15FL-h1q4

This five-minute video is more authentic, and tells more of the story. You’ll also learn about an even more haunted room at that hotel. (The beginning of this video has a deliberate jitter. The rest of the video is fine.)

That video is at https://youtu.be/BlKr6UICLW4

Chicago’s “Resurrection Mary” died in a car accident after fighting with her boyfriend. Is she trying to get back to the dance hall where they fought, or fleeing from him?

Here’s a Travel Channel clip about Resurrection Mary, including a theory about her grave. (Their version of Mary’s death is one of several. She may have been walking, or in a car at the time of the accident.)

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/pXrEWc-Lh4E

This list could go on & on. It nearly always involves a romance gone wrong, and a premature death.

Protective Female Ghosts

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

If you study ghosts who protect homes and families, nearly all of them are women.

Banshees are female. They protect their families, and – as a group – they also protect the community. Before a major tragedy occurs in Ireland, people report the wail of the banshee (bean sidhe).

Green Ladies are, of course, female. They protect the homes they lived in. Usually, those homes are in Scotland, but Ocean-Born Mary is an American “green lady.”

Not all protective female ghosts wear green. Some wear white, and one of the most famous is the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. So far, whether the photo is credible depends on when you research those who’ve tried to debunk it, and whom you believe.

Every one of these spirits seems to care deeply for her home or family, or both. So, I consider them ghosts who remain for love.

Mysterious Female Ghosts

A few female ghost stories are… odd.

For example, there’s the “Grey Lady” of Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire, England. She wears a long grey dress but no coat or wrap to stay warm, even on the coldest nights. The big question is: Why does she haunt the former home of monks? Was romance part of the story?

If you're interested in Hitchin Priory's ghosts, you can see an in-depth investigation there, in a 45-minute video at YouTube: https://youtu.be/tmBhwQfVK_w

Then there’s the nun telling her beads (saying the rosary) around the Borley Rectory site. One popular story is that she was from a nearby nunnery and planned to run away with a monk from Borley Rectory.

Someone caught them. He was hanged, and they bricked her up alive… but where? Is she still looking for her lover?

This seven-minute video was filmed by the BBC at Borley in 1975. Peter Underwood – one of the 20th century’s most important paranormal researchers – explains the ghost stories.

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/5IcMi0gppVc

Ghostly Couples

Even before the 1937 Cary Grant film, Topper, people have believed in happy, ghostly couples.

From my experience, they exist. Almost every city seems to have at least one story of a ghost couple – or sometimes an entire, ghostly crowd – at a hotel, cafe, or club. I’ve witnessed several of them.

The Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado (USA) – which inspired Stephen King’s book, The Shining – is haunted by Freelan Stanley, the founder of the hotel. He and his wife appear in the lobby and the billiard room, and the ghost of Flora (Stanley’s wife) plays the piano in the ballroom.

At New Orleans’ Hotel Monteleone, I’ve heard ghosts having a boisterous party in a reception room on the ground floor. They’re talking, dancing to ghostly music, and clinking glasses in the wee hours of the morning. If you approach the room, the noise decreases and the room is empty.

Love and Ghosts…?

I’m not sure love and ghosts go together. Add some hate and vengeance for a more credible connection.

But, when you’re looking for ghosts with dark romantic histories, women seem to dominate the scene.

If you know great stories of lovelorn ghosts – especially featuring men – I hope you’ll leave a comment. At the moment, this article seems tilted far to the female side, and I’d like a little balance. Surely there are a few male ghosts who linger in our world, recalling past loves?

More Resources

What Connects Haunted Places?

Before I investigate an unfamiliar location, I like to evaluate its potential for ghosts.

Sometimes, the  patterns and connections between haunted sites is a tipping point. That’s especially true in cases such as the ghosts of Eden Camp Museum, in Malton, England… where I had no “ghost stories” to start with. (Online, I found zero reports of ghosts there.)

Just as I’ll usually like a new acquaintance if we share a common interest, it seems as if many of the most haunted sites share connections, too.

One of those haunted connections – perhaps the easiest for me to verify – is energy lines, or “ley lines.”

Haunted Places – Connecting the Dots

Are ley lines real? I have no idea. Among serious ghost hunters, ley lines are controversial, to put it mildly.

However, if I find a straight line connecting three or more anomalous locations, it seems to increase the likelihood that their ghost reports are accurate.

What connects haunted places? Putting the pieces together.The process is simple. I’m literally “connecting the dots” on a map.

I take out a map, a pen, and a ruler, or I use Google Maps. (And yes, I have a transparent ruler that I hold up, against the screen.)

In just a few minutes, I can see if there’s a geographical connection.

But, it’s important to note nearby anomalous locations, not just haunted places. 

One example is the “Judges’ Line” I found in Salem, Massachusetts.

Some of those locations report ghosts. Others are just sites with odd (“anomalous”) histories and connections to the Salem Witch Trials.

Later, in northern New Hampshire, I found two distinct ley lines. Along one line, nearly all reports were about ghosts and hauntings.

Along a parallel line, most reports were about Bigfoot and other eerie creatures.

I don’t know why ghosts – and crypto critters – seem to favor one line more than another.

Whatever the explanation, ley lines seem to indicate something related to paranormal activity. That’s why I check them first, in lieu of credible ghost stories.

Ley lines aren’t the only pattern I look for. They’re just the easiest to check in most cases, not necessarily the most important.

History Matters, Too

Of course, my Salem “Judges Line” relied on geography and history, to determine that ley line.

When I’ve found ghost stories related to a site, I’ll check them right away – sometimes, even before I look at ley lines.

Perhaps someone like King Henry VIII or Lord Byron apparently haunts a hotel. I’ll see if history supports a connection between the individual and the location.

Fortunately, between great libraries and the Internet, I can usually determine the likelihood of that connection. (Of course, some research can be challenging. At either extreme – an obscure person or a famous one – stories can be difficult to verify.)

Of course, the best confirmation of a ghost is to witness the activity, on site. So, if a site is convenient or especially intriguing, I may investigate it, even if the ghost stories seem more like fiction than fact.

When I investigated Edith Wharton’s lovely home in Massachusetts, I thought I heard her ghost – speaking in French – saying unattractive things about her husband.

One of the staff confirmed that Ms. Wharton regularly spoke in French, and – at times – did not seem to like her husband very much.

Having that confirmation made me feel better about claiming the site is haunted.

Some ghost stories aren’t supported by history.

Sometimes, it’s easy to dismiss a ghost story without going near the site.

In New Orleans, the story of Madame LaLaurie throwing a slave girl from a top floor window…? That floor wasn’t even part of the house when the LaLauries lived there. And, I’ve been assured – by someone who lived in that mansion building for years – that the site’s ghost stories are vastly overrated.

However, don’t rush to judgement.

The Myrtles Plantation is one of the most haunted sites I’ve visited. But, there is no record of “Chloe” at the Myrtles Plantation. The children she supposedly poisoned did not die, but grew up and lived full lives.

Despite what seems to be a fictional backstory for the Myrtles’ ghosts, I’ve witnessed a wide range of weird and paranormal phenomena there. Had I evaluated the site solely on its history, I might have missed a great night of ghost hunting.

Lizzie Borden legends and other historical research

Folklore and Other Patterns

In ghost research, I look for many other patterns, as well. Here are a few:

A house built on a Native American sacred site or burial grounds…? It’s probably haunted, but I always verify that history. In the late 20th century, “Native American burial sites” seemed the default excuse for a haunting, even when there was no evidence of Native Americans in the area.

Often, that’s just lazy research. The site may still be profoundly haunted, but take the “burial ground” legend with a grain of salt. (In some cases, literally. <– Yes, that’s a ghost hunting joke, related to using salt as a defense against malicious entities.)

Any house that used to be a funeral parlor – or any place where dead bodies were, for any length of time – is likely to have a ghost story.

The Lizzie Borden house is one. If you investigate the basement of the house, and look for evidence of blood, you’ll find it. That’s because Mr. Borden owned a casket business, and sometimes worked with dead bodies in the basement. Related rumors were – and still are – grisly. (Hint: unusually tall bodies, and standard-sized caskets. Ick.)

Clues to ghosts in haunted cemeteries.

Not all cemeteries have ghosts. Only about 1/4 of the “haunted” cemeteries I visit seem to have ghosts. So, before taking the time to investigate one, I look for specific things.

If they moved some (or all) bodies from a cemetery to another location, the old (supposedly empty) cemetery is probably haunted.

For example, they moved the Salem “Witch House” back from the road, to where it sits now is. But part of the land used to be a cemetery for the church next door. Someone who worked for the church explained that they never were sure if they found all the graves, before they settled the house in its new location.

If a cemetery has many unmarked graves, the cemetery is probably haunted.

Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH) is an example. Yes, all the headstones were removed for some time, and then replaced when the cemetery was reopened to visitors. But no one has explained why nearly half the headstones are missing. (When the cemetery was restored, creepy gravestones weren’t considered collectible art.)

Gilson Road is still one of the most reliably haunted sites I’ve ever investigated.

Two gravestones in woods behind a haunted cemetery.At Portsmouth South Street Cemetery (Portsmouth, NH), some gravestones seemed tossed into the nearby woods.

The photo at right shows two.

And, of course, that cemetery is haunted.

Research Saves Time

Those are just a few things I research before scheduling an investigation.

4 reasons some places are haunted

When I find multiple connections – ley lines and history and one of the four features of most hauntings (money, power struggles, drama, and tragedy) – odds increase that the site really is haunted.

If I find no connections – not even history supporting the ghost stories – I expect very little activity at the site. I may even decline to investigate.

However, sometimes I’ve been convinced that a ghost report was a hoax…  and then realized I was wrong. Really wrong.

Bradford College (Bradford, MA) was a good example of that.

I’d heard Bradford’s “Necronomicon” legends, and predictable, tired old stories about a haunted theatre and ghostly tunnels (which usually don’t even exist).

They were a yawn.

But, as a favor to a friend, I investigated the college anyway. And, as my articles explain, the site was very haunted.

In fact, some of the eeriest places I’ve visited were those with ghost stories I’d dismissed as hype and urban legends. (Would they have been as creepy if I’d arrived, better prepared to encounter ghosts? Maybe not.)

In recent years, people have asked me to investigate many locations… more than I have time to visit. I’ve learned to use patterns and connections – geography and history – to select the most promising research sites.

I don’t put all my trust in things like ley lines, history, or folklore.  But, however silly and pseudo-scientific those connections may seem to some people, they often indicate whether a site has ghosts.

Westford Knight – His Importance in Ghost Hunting

In yesterday’s Hollow Hill article (about haunted Haverhill), I mentioned the Westford Knight. I’m not sure that Westford (Massachusetts) site is actually paranormal, though it might be worth checking out.
 
Westford Knight site, Westford, MA (templars)
The Westford Knight, in Westford © 2004 Matthew Trump

In my ley lines (for ghost hunting) research, I include the Westford Knight site because it has a weird (and credible) enough context.

 
Of course, between age, vandalism, and decades of acid rain, the artwork on the Westford Knight grave marker is barely visible now. (30 years ago, it was still fairly impressive. Today, it’s more likely to evoke a big yawn.)
 
So, here are references that may explain my enthusiasm when the Westford grave shows up on a ley line.
 
First, here’s a link to a lengthy history supporting the Westford Knight theories. (Illustrations aren’t so great.)
 
 
Instead, look at the photos with this not-as-informative article:
 
  • Templars in America by Tim Wallace-Murphy
And here’s an article that shows a grave marker from a related era, in a similar style, with an equally fascinating history.
 
Whether or not you take the Westford Knight history seriously, it stands out as an anomaly. It’s something weird and incongruous in an otherwise typical, lovely New England town.
In the future, I’ll talk more about ley lines and how useful they are to ghost hunters. But, for now, the Westford Knight is a great example of a not-necessarily-ghostly point that increases the potential of any ley line that crosses it.
That includes the haunted Haverhill ley line.