Thirty-one Frights of Halloween

Tis the season to be frightened! At this time of the year when the veil between the two worlds is thin, one can’t help but be drawn to tales of ghosts, haunted houses, and the unexplained. Stories that we know can’t be true, but then again...the possibilities are chilling! After all, science may not be able to prove that ghosts exist, but they have yet to prove that they DON’T. So, in an effort to personalize your Halloween, here is a daily dose of spooky things that go bump in the night, and in the sky for that matter. Thirty-one frights of Halloween!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Inconvenient Haunt

Tucked away in the beautiful hills and valleys of Brown County, among other forgotten places named Gnaw Bone, Weed Patch Hill, and Bugger Holler, and inconveniently located near the dead-end of a curving, dipping rural road that literally drops off at the edge of Salt Creek, you will find Story, a beautifully preserved 19th century village that somehow survived the forestry conservation movement, the Great Depression, and the creation of Lake Monroe.

The Village of Story has a curious storybook beginning. The land was part of the Ten O’clock Treaty, a trust from the Miami Indians of three million acres of land given to the white man for settlement. The boundary line was marked by a shadow cast at each September 30, running from Raccoon Creek on the Wabash River near Montezuma to Seymour. The line passes right through the heart of Story and is denoted by a carved limestone monument in the center of the village. In 1851, Dr. George Story obtained a land grant from President Fillmore, causing the President to utter this famous quote, “only an idiot would live out there.” Undetered, the strong-minded doctor proceeded to build his small village in the inconvenient location. Despite all odds, Story became one of the largest settlement in the area, boasting two general stores, a nondenominational church, one-room schoolhouse, grain mill, sawmill, slaughterhouse, blacksmith’s forge, and post office. After the Great Depression, when many people abandoned Story and the other hilly communities of Brown County, the village developed a new dubious reputation as a producer and seller of illegal bathtub gin. In the 1960’s, after the flooding of Lake Monroe cut off Story’s access to the bustling City of Bloomington, the village dwindled, it’s only attraction being the remaining general store which sold Moon Pies, Nehi sodas, and leaded gasoline. In 1978, on the brink of collapse, Story was rescued, and in its present incarnation, the whole village now serves as a top-rated bed and breakfast.

With such a vast and colorful history, one can’t help but ask, is Story haunted? But of course! Story is home to many ghosts, most notably, the Blue Lady. Over the years, many guests, employees, and paranormal investigators have reported experiencing unexplained events. The Inn has a huge collection of guest books filled with personal handwritten accounts of ghost sightings by visitors from all over the world. Below is my own personal paranormal experiences at Story. 

It was a cool, soft November evening. The beautiful colors of autumn had long since faded and the gnarled, bare trees stood in stark eerie contrast against the blush colored sky.

It was the off-season, and my husband and I had the inn all to ourselves (the owners live in a different building). No television or cell phone reception, just us and the spirits that call Story home.

We roamed through the rescued remains of Story which consists of the General Store and Inn, old Barn, School House, Tavern, Treaty House, Doc Story’s and Alra Wheeler Homesteads, Carriage House, Grain Mill, the old sauna, and scattered old cottages. While we had permission to explore the now deserted village, there was an uncomfortable sense of trespassing. We felt like strangers treading in a bygone century that was not necessarily welcoming. Perhaps it was the many accounts of ghost sightings, but we definitely had a feeling of being watched and followed.

We made careful investigation of the old Barn, rumored to be haunted by a young boy who, driven by the despairs of the Great Depression, had hung himself. The sounds of crying, unexplained drops in temperature, and curious gray wisps have been reported. However, for us the barn proved disappointingly benign and uninteresting. Like the rest of Story, this ghost seemed to have shut down and left for the off-season.

Doc Story’s homestead proved more interesting. Built on the highest point in the village, the shadows cased on the old-paned front windows gave them the eerie appearance of following our every move. Many odd occurrences, attributed to the ghost of Doc Story, have happened at the homestead. Known for his love of the ladies, and having been married many times, the doctor seems drawn to the female visitors, following and pinching them. Lights also have been turned on and off, and doors opened and closed without anyone being near them. When we explored the shut-down building, we found the interior temperature uncomfortably cold, and heard undeniable creaking sounds as if someone was following us—but there was no one else in the building!

As twilight faded into night, a fog rolled in, distorting our view and causing us to envision the spirits of animals, families, and moonshiners from long ago. This obviously was a figment of our over-active imaginations, an optical illusion—or was it? Feeling unnerved, we decided it was time to turn in for the night.

We were staying in the Blue Lady’s room, home of Story’s most engaging ghost. The Blue Lady is not shy, often appearing as a blue hazy figure or heard rustling about the inn. She also apparently likes to smoke cherry tobacco, for that aroma often heralds her presence. No one knows who the Blue Lady is or why she decided to take up residence at the inn. The owners believe she might possibility be one of Doc Story’s wives. A portrait found in one of the buildings of a lady dressed in dark, nineteenth-century clothing was christen the Blue Lady and now hangs on the wall behind the service desk. On more than one occasion, when people have casually commented on the woman’s stern appearance and lack of beauty, strange things have happened. The credit card machine stops working, lights go out, or the picture will suddenly crash to the floor. Determined to have a good night’s sleep, we paid our respects to the portrait before ascending the slanted old staircase to our room on the second floor.

We turned on the blue glass antique lamp, a beacon that is believed to summon the Blue Lady. In this soft-lit atmosphere, we spent the evening reading ghost stories from the many guest books found in the room and drinking the complementary bottle of wine left for us. Needless to say, the stories were quite exciting, and we decided to try and contact the Blue Lady ourselves, as others had in the past, with an Ouija Board. We lit a white candle, said a protective prayer, and then invited the Blue Lady to contact us. After a short period of time, in response to a question, the planchette moved! This was not a trick or hallucination. The planchette definitely moved! The Blue Lady had made her presence known.

We inquired about her history. We learned she was one of Doc Story’s wives, but were unable to make sense of the name she gave us. We also asked and received responses to a few personal questions, many of which have since proven to be true. In closing, we asked if she had a final message for us. Slowly the planchette moved to the letters—b-e-h-a-p-p-y-a-l-w-a-y-s—before moving off the board and falling to the floor. That was the end of our encounter. We thanked the Blue Lady, blew out the candle, and contemplately went to bed. 

I was awakened by the sound of soothing music, what sounded like a waltz. I glanced at the clock and saw that it was . Who would be playing music at this hour? Startled, I realized the answer was no one—because no one else was supposed to be in the inn! I quickly shook my husband awake and he too heard the music. Against our better judgment, we decided to carefully check the building for other occupants and seek out the source of the sound. It took only a few minutes to confirm that we were indeed alone, and yet the music kept playing. More curious than frightened, we tried to locate its source. However, after an hour of searching, we couldn’t seem to discern were the sound was coming from. It was as if the music was playing all around us, following us. We finally gave up, went back to bed, and allowed ourselves to be lured to sleep. As I drifted off, I thought I detected the faint aroma of cherry tobacco.

That morning, we awoke to silence and a hot muggy room. Sometime during the night the music had stopped playing and the heat had somehow come on, causing the dresser mirror to fog over. Written in the condensation were the words, “be happy always.”

1 comment:

  1. I would like to know more about Indiana's history and stuff like this; I love it. Where do you find your information? Where can I look to go deeper and find out what this place was like so many years ago?