Portsmouth, NH – Real ghosts, private home – pt 2

[Part two of a true story that began at Portsmouth, NH – real ghosts, private home]

Often after this, I heard louder footsteps on the stairs to the second floor and upstairs, usually at dusk and for about thirty seconds at a time. I ignored them. Old houses make funny noises, I reminded myself.

It’s important to understand that I really wanted my own house after several years in rentals. Further, this house seemed such a great opportunity to buy a house at well below market value, I wanted it to work out. Also, I’d lived in a very haunted house in Northern California (which was later the subject of a Fate magazine article). I figured that it was highly unlikely that I’d ever live in a second haunted house.

When I couldn’t explain an odd event in the Portsmouth house, I ignored it.

But small incidents kept occurring.


I kept heavy file boxes of papers and reference books near my work area in the dining room, and some mornings I’d find them rearranged.

I asked my family if anyone had been searching for something in my boxes, and they all said no. I wanted to believe them, but I also wanted the simple explanation that someone had been looking for something, and just didn’t want to admit it.

One morning, I found the white ceramic hippo that I kept on the center of the dining table, in one of my file boxes at the bottom of a stack. Annoyed, I brought him out of the box and replaced him on the table. That did not happen again.

The heavy, paper-filled boxes continued to rearrange themselves overnight, about once every ten days. I never heard this happening, though my bedroom was immediately above the area where the boxes were stored, and without carpeting, sounds traveled easily throughout the house.


A few weeks after the hippo incident, in the late afternoon, I started smelling smoke in the dining room, at the corner above the basement electrical box. I rushed to the basement, but the odor was not there. I went outside to see if a neighbor was burning leaves, or if a nearby chimney could account for the odor. The air was crisp and fresh outside.

In a panic, I had my husband check the box and our wiring as soon as he came home from work. He said some of it was old, but nothing looked particularly dangerous or in need of immediate replacement. Nevertheless, he did a little work on the wiring to the dining room, to put my mind at rest.

Soon after this, I paid to have an energy audit of our house, to lower our utility bills. The representative of the power company checked the wiring and said it was fine. He used a couple of devices to check for drafts in the dining room, and found that the area was tight so I probably was not smelling smoke from outside.

I was baffled, and these “little things” were starting to snowball. There were no single, frightening events at this point, but I began to have doubts about remaining in that house with my family. Something seemed not right, though I couldn’t say that a flying spatula, creaking floorboards, or shifting boxes were particularly frightening.


Then I started dreaming about a fire. In my dream, could see the flames reflected in the rear window of the dining room. Sometimes I saw flames in the corner of the room. Generally, it was just heavy smoke and the reflected flames in the window. I don’t usually smell things in my dreams, but this was such a vivid nightmare, the acrid odor remained in my nose even after I woke up.

I mentioned this to my husband, who’s lived with me long enough to know that many of my dreams are prophetic. He looked anxious, but reminded me that there was no logical reason for a fire, and nothing we could do. We had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and he re-checked the electrical box and wiring, just in case.

The dreams persisted, as did the daytime smell of smoke from time to time. I started moving our belongings into a storage facility on the other side of town. This seemed silly since our huge attic was less than one-third full, and we also had a basement suitable for storage.


I had located my writing area in the far corner of the dining room, where I could look out the window into our backyard, and also see the kitchen over my shoulder.

One early evening as I sat working, I saw something white pass through the kitchen. I looked straight at it, just in time to see (what I thought was) the back of a white shirt go past the doorway.

I thought it was my older daughter, and shouted to ask her if she had a new tee-shirt.

There was no answer. Then I noticed that she hadn’t turned the light on in the kitchen, and the afternoon light was fading fast. If she was cutting carrot sticks or another snack, I was ready to lecture her on safety.

I stood up to see what she was doing in the kitchen, but no one was there.

What had I seen that looked like someone in white, moving quickly past the doorway? I checked for a reflection from the yard next door, but the blinds at that side of the kitchen were closed. The window to the back was covered by a nice large ficus tree on the lower half. Light streamed in the top of the window, but only a foil balloon could reach high enough to reflect that kind of light,there. I returned to my desk, baffled.

Deciding that I’d been working too long and my eyes were tired, I left my desk and went out to the kitchen to start dinner. Everything seemed normal for the rest of the day.

However, over the next several months, I saw the “woman in white” more often. Many times, I was looking straight at her, and saw the filmy white shape of a woman in a long gown, float peacefully past through the kitchen. She was always going from the front hall towards the back door.

Less often I saw a man, mostly in brown clothing but still translucent as the woman was. He was sometimes on the stairs to the second floor, but usually followed the same path as the woman: From the front hall, through the kitchen, and vanishing towards the back door. Once, I thought I saw him at the window of the attic, but that may have been an odd reflection.

I still told no one about what I was seeing. I didn’t want to scare my children, and my husband was probably more afraid of ghosts than they might be.


Finally, my older daughter announced firmly, “Mom, I saw a ghost in the kitchen.”

We exchanged stories and she had seen the same woman as I had: A filmy white shape in the kitchen, usually floating through the room.

I was relieved that someone else had seen her. But I was also concerned that my children were being affected by the energy–and perhaps spirits–in the house.

Next, more dramatic events lead to a decision.