If “dead men tell no tales,” someone forgot to let Museum of the Albemarle in on it. Aside from the exhibits detailing this region’s storied past, some say ghosts walk the hallowed halls of history — at least according to a group of self-proclaimed ghost hunters.
The North Carolina Paranormal Researchers, consisting of Mark Anderson, Steve Baker, Jennifer Seymour and Chad Chappell, entered the museum near midnight last Saturday to discover whether or not its extensive square footage is inhabited by spirits of an ethereal variety.
“We try to contact the spirits and try to get information from them, basically,” Anderson said. “If they have a story to tell, then they’ll tell it. If they want to hide, they’ll hide. When we get done, we’ll bring you evidence, or no evidence.”
The team was divided into two groups, upstairs and downstairs, where they made a sweep of the building using an electromagnetic field tester to establish what’s known as a “baseline,” checking for anything electrical that might give a false signal.
“If we get a hit, then it’s more likely a spirit, because spirits supposedly give off electromagnetic fields,” Anderson said. Though that device never lit up, the infrared cameras, which were set up on the second floor in the Jackson House exhibit, as well as in various places around the main Madrin Gallery, showed signs of some sort of activity.
While investigating inside the Jackson House, Seymour snapped a picture with her phone that revealed some rather startling images—the face of a child peering through the window, and next to that, a large, shadowy shape that looked like the silhouette of a human adult.
Throughout the evening, the spirits had no qualms about making themselves known on camera as well as vocally, and even musically—by whistling. Virtually every room showed some sign, via infra-red camera or Ovilus, an electronic speech synthesis device which translates words spoken from beyond, that someone, or something, was indeed there. Some of the words appeared on the device while inside the auditorium, and included the words “act” and “theater.” At other times, the words seemed more random.
“Sometimes the words you get don’t mean anything, and they’re not really from a spirit,” Anderson said. “But if you ask a specific question and get a specific answer, then you know you’ve got intelligence communicating with you.”
One of those spirits is thought to be that of Fred Fearing, a local historian and avid MOA supporter who passed away in 2007 at the age of 93, two years after the museum reopened in its new location. It was said that Fearing had promised to watch over the museum after he died. He was buried in the Episcopal Cemetery directly behind the property. Many people have claimed to have seen Fearing walking the halls, and some say they have say they have talked to his ghost.
Other sightings have been reported in the museum as well.
The museum is not the team’s first paranormal adventure. All of the members say they have had previous experience with hauntings, like a recent visit to the historic Camden County Jail.
After an investigation, Anderson writes up a report and reveals the findings to the owner of the house or business; in this case, the report will be given to museum officials.
According to museum facilities manager Wayne Mathews, he can’t say how the information will be used, but an exhibit or lecture could be possibilities.
Anderson said that although there has always been a lot of theorizing, people don’t really know what a spirit actually is.
“It’s just conjecture—it depends on the person,” he said. “Nobody knows. Dead people don’t know. In my personal opinion, they’re not allowed to tell us anything.”
Toby Tate is a correspondent for The Daily Advance.