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23 Jul 2013


DEARBORN: Ghost hunters find paranormal activity in historical buildings

Gayle, who didn’t want to give her last name, and Tim Renaud of Motor City Ghost Hunters talk about the tools of their trade. Photo by Joe Slezak

DEARBORN — There’s more than just physical history in three of the Dearborn Historical Museum’s buildings.

There’s paranormal history, too.

Motor City Ghost Hunters got readings on its equipment during a recent program for children at the McFadden-Ross House, Gardner House and Commandant’s Quarters.

A program for adults will be held Oct. 19 as a fundraiser for the Museum Guild of Dearborn, which operates the three buildings and the museum administration building.

Motor City Ghost Hunters has video footage of what it believes to be the ghost of Lizzie Ross, the McFadden-Ross House’s last occupant, going past the parlor window and lights being turned on and off in one of the Commandant’s Quarters upstairs bedrooms.

The video shown to participants in the children’s program also showed paranormal activity at several other locations, including Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit; TV’s Grand Event, a former hotel in downtown Trenton; a Huron Township house; and more.

Susan McCormick of Motor City Ghost Hunters told one of the groups that she didn’t believe in ghosts until she visited the closed Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where “The Shawshank Redemption” and other movies were filmed. She was in the basement when someone grabbed her jacket three times, she said. Many years ago, an inmate grabbed a guard’s keys, killed the guard and escaped.

“I was scared because I didn’t believe in any of this,” the Canton Township resident said. “There was something out there I couldn’t see that could touch me. It scared the heck out of me. I ran up the stairs like there’s no tomorrow.”

Before the groups went looking for ghosts, McCormick’s husband, John, talked about the group’s ground rules: Never trespass; don’t use alcohol or drugs; never litter; for safety sake, never investigate alone because the locations often don’t have electricity; and don’t provoke the spirits.

The groups also got to see some of the tools of the trade, including an Ovilus X, which is programmed to recognize more than 2,000 words; a K2 meter, which recognizes when the temperature drops, which could be a signal of a spirit; a Mel Meter, which reads electrical fields and temperatures; digital voice recorders, which hunters listen to later to see if voices are detected; and Maglite flashlights, which are turned off, but can be turned on with a quick twist.

John McCormick’s group started at the Commandant’s Quarters, which is two blocks west of the other houses. The flashlights turned on and off several times in an upstairs bedroom. The Ovilus X picked up several words. In response to the question, “How old are you?,” the word “celebration” appeared. The words “Army” (the building was part of an arsenal), “gate” (there is a gate attached to the building) and “steam” (it was a hot evening) also appeared.

The group went to the basement and the Ovilus picked up the word “father.” When asked how many children he had, it picked up the word “10.” The word “cancer” was picked up, as was “gate” again.

The group went to the Gardner House, the oldest building in the city, which was built in 1831. McCormick said a lot of activity was picked up there in April.

Among the words the Ovilus picked up where “coffee” (a cup and a coffee grinder were in the room) and “fist,” which McCormick said is an indication the spirit is mad.

Several other words were picked up in the McFadden-Ross House’s first-floor meeting room and basement, and, like the other two buildings, the flashlights went on and off without being touched.

Several words were picked up, including “fist,” “home” and “blue” (one member of the group sitting at the end of a table was wearing a blue shirt and jeans).

Laura Witty of Franklin brought her 8-year-old son, Lucas Keppard, who said he likes watching ghost-hunting shows.

“We thought it sounded like fun,” Witty said. “He’s been waiting for this for two months.”

She said because of the village’s history, the program might help them understand their hometown better. They live in a 91-year-old house, but she said she doesn’t think it’s haunted.

Craig Schuler of Dearborn brought his 7 1/2-year-old son, Joshua, who will be a third-grader this fall at Snow Elementary School, because he’s interested in things like Bigfoot.

“I thought it was fun,” Schuler said. “It was very kid-oriented.”

“It was good,” Joshua said.

Schuler, who works for the city’s CDTV, said he likes that there have been more events lately at the museum’s buildings, which are under the direction of Jack Tate, acting chief curator.

McCormick said he was pleased that 14 children and their families attended, and he’s happy to help the Dearborn Historical Museums.

“Given what we found in April, Mrs. Ross is very prevalent in this home,” he said. “We’re pleased with the activity we had tonight.”

Visit MotorCityGhostHunters.com or call 1-313-516-3001 to learn more about the group.

Contact Staff Writer Joe Slezak at 1-734-246-0835 or jslezak@heritage.com. Follow him on Twitter @ JoeSlezak1.

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