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Holiday Haunts

When many people think of hauntings, invariably their notions of haunted houses stir memories of Victorian Era mansions. The Victorian Era, dating from 1837-1901 and aptly named for the reign of Queen Victoria (oddly enough...) brought with it famous architecture, literature, music, and cultura elements. It was a time of immense change around the western world, and encompassed a literary revolution that brought along figures like Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, H.G Wells, Emily Dickson, and more.

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What many do not know, is that the Victorian era became a breeding ground for ghost stories! An Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell, Was it an Illusion by Amelia Edwards, The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell, The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson and many more helped to define the era as a time of ghost stories. Perhaps most famously, works like Signal Man and A Christmas Carol helped to make the holiday season a time of haunting tales and spectral visitation.

Winter is a dark, spooky, and mysterious time of year. As the solar day reaches its lowest point, and shadows and snow fall upon the collective psyche of those in the Northern Hemisphere, ghosts became naturally tied to this time of year. They became omens of good, and bad, in the darkness.

The tale of the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge, the wealthy industrialist and capitalist in a time of immense upheavel among the poor, working classes of Victorian England would go on to become a masterwork of its time, and is still commonly pulled out in various forms during the holiday season. Scrooge's journey, rife with visitations by spirits from the past, present, and future have now become part of Christmas lore. In particular, they served as a reminder for many during a time in which society was rapidly changing, and the wealth disparity between rich and poor was expanding at breakneck speed, to look at the direction of one's own life, to hopefully make positive changes for mankind in the future.

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Looking back at 2021, Spectral Research and Investigation has experienced an enormous amount of changes in our own right. Essentially starting in 2020 in the height of Covid-19's lockdowns as an idea born many, many years before, SRI began in the TNT Area of Pt. Pleasant with Theresa and myself. As the organization began to grow, we had immense challenges bringing on reliable new members. It seemed an immense challenge to simply put together a team, let alone begin an investigation circuit.

In Mid-March, I received a call from Zachary from Countere Magazine, who approached SRI with his interest in writing an article about paranormal investigations for the online magazine. In particular, Zach expressed interest in attending an investigation with SRI, to learn about paranormal investigation. Theresa and I, immediately, jumped at the opportunity and looked to reach out to Ms. Frame at the Haymond House. In October of 2020, Theresa and I had investigated this late 1890's Victorian home, built on the bank of the Elk River in Sutton. This just made sense at the time.

In April, Theresa and I brought along James Ward. James, a former student of mine, asked if he could come along to the Haymond House. James expressed interest in learning the skills of a paranormal investigator, and essentially was a no brainer. Working with Theresa and myself, James would quickly acquire necessary skills, and was eager to get started (James, ultimately, would take over audio duties for SRI). Together with Zach, SRI would conduct the investigation that night. From that moment on, SRI would never be the same.

In the months that followed, SRI would conduct investigations from one corner of WV to the other, from the old bank in Beckley, to a residential in Sistersville, to Deep End Antiques in Beckley, to the Old Hospital on College Hill in Williamson and more. Along the way, SRI began to pick up more solid members, including Brian Martin, Bree Fitzpatrick, and Kaysee Brabb (who has since taken over videography duties for SRI). Together, we have built a solid investigative team of researchers interested in finding the truth about the paranormal. I am proud of the strides we have taken in the past year, and am looking forward to see what 2022 brings our way.

SRI has developed into a known organization in the paranormal field, with contacts around the nation and the UK. We've attended paranormal conventions. We've conducted interviews with well-known podcasts in the paranormal community. It has, truly, been a blessing.

On December 11th, SRI members returned to the Haymond House. To the place that helped to mold our organization, and develop it into what we are now, and will likely continue to help us develop into what we want to become in the future. While on location, we held a sit down dinner together with family and friends, and even were able to spend some time in attendance at the Yeti Festival at the Bigfoot Museum in the Mountain Laurel Country Store.

The investigation on this night was fairly active, with several appearances of a shadowy figure, disembodied voices, strange sounds, and more. Initial sweeps cleared the location, and also provided necessary environmental data. We were also accompanied, for much of the night, by Les O'Dell of WV Cryptids and Strange Encounters! He helped us man the cameras as we conducted investigations on various floors, and helped during EVP sessions in the front room of the house.

At one point, a trigger session was held in Mr. Haymond's office, in which victorian era music like Claire de Lune, Moonlight Sonata, and more examples of time period music were played to see if we could entice responses, and while nothing was caught, a definite shift in the environment from dark and more tense to jovial, and light, was observed.

A tall, shadowy figure appeared numerous times in the kitchen during the night, and a shorter shadow figure was observed on the stairs a couple times in the early morning hours. Sounds were an almost constant occurance throughout the night, as well as strange lights with no direct source or cause that could be observed, and more. It was an active investigation. By 4:00, however, mosty of those in attendance retired for a few hours of sleep for the night.

By morning, after most of our members had left, Theresa and I went through the house for photos and to say our final goodbyes. Normally, I walk through the house, addressing possible presences in the home/business, and thank them for their time, for speaking with us, for interacting with us and so on. This time, I ended with "I hope you have a good holiday with your family, Mr. Haymond", as I left the 3rd floor. As I shut the door, I could have sworn I heard a man's voice that said "Good seeing you!" Theresa said, on the floor below me, at roughly the same time she heard a females voice saying something as well. Unfortunately, no equipment was running at the time.

On behalf of SRI Members, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season! We will resume our investigations in January, and hope to see many new faces along our path. Also, do not forget that we will be in attendance at Hidden Marietta's Paranormal Convention at the Old Lafayette Hotel on January 29th!

Stay spooky folks!

Brian Clary

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