This has got to be one of the most common questions that I get about Morton Hall. My hard and fast answer is always a resounding, “No!” Without getting into too much discussion on personal beliefs etc., I am open to the idea of ghosts….I just don’t want them in MY house! That would be scary. And if they must reside at my house, I insist that they remain quietly, politely hidden from me and my guests. They may terrorize any vandals they wish.
The honest answer is I do not know if the Hall is haunted. I have had many people who are much more sensitive AND open to ghosts who have visited the house over the years. A couple of those people have refused to come on the property again. Others have said that while it is disconcerting, they have not felt threatened. Still others, who have not been scared away, have remarked on how much happier the house feels now that we have finally moved past the deconstruction phase and the house is now a pleasant, happy place to visit.
I think that over the years, I have just been too busy working on fixing the house to be too terribly concerned with ghosts. The couple times that I’ve had a creepy feeling, I have just reasonably explained that I am trying to get work done and I need not to see or hear anything that I cannot explain. Either I am talking myself out of the creepy feeling or the ghosts are reasonable…take your pick!
The first that I heard of any ghost sightings was probably around 1996. My friend, Red and his wife, Chris had come out to help us. Red and William hung the drywall ceilings on the 2nd floor while Chris and I were clearing some of the grounds. She loved to garden and explore and got up much earlier than me (but then who doesn’t!) At some point, she mentioned that while she had been walking around the property, at dawn in the fog, she had seen a man walking around the property as well. She described him as average height with a beard. She said that he was there one minute and then gone the next.
I didn’t hear about anything again until about 2008 when Denny was working on the back end of the house and was out there for about 4 months straight. I would check in with him in-person every couple of weeks and on one visit he mentioned that he had been having a visitor….a tallish man with a beard who was walking through the walls etc. into his work zone. Keep in mind, Denny is a character and likes to yank people’s chains a bit, so I just smiled and waited for him to say it was a joke. A couple more check-ins and a couple of sighting reports later and I was now wondering if working by himself so long might be a little hard on the poor man….just listen, nod and smile. A couple months later, he told me that a couple of college girls had stopped by, they had been working on some sort of ghosts of Kent County project and had talked to him and given him a picture of one of the former residents, Herman (I cannot recall if they provided a surname) who they said matched his description perfectly. And yes, the picture he showed me was of a tall, thin man with a beard. Of course, pictures from that era pretty much always show a thin, tall man with a beard, don’t they? That picture was in the house for a few years, but has since disappeared. I think that I looked through the ownership papers of the house, but did not find a Herman listed anywhere; however, Morton Hall was mostly a rental property over the years, so it is quite possible that if he existed, he was a tenant.
Ghost hunter stories mention that when you take pictures of haunted areas, there are “orbs” in the pictures. I’ve taken hundreds of pictures of the Hall and not had any such occurrences until we ripped the back end down to the studs. There were hundreds of orbs which can be seen in the pictures. I will let you decide whether they are from flying dust or otherwise.
Speaking of ghost hunters, sometime around winter 2010, Wendy Davis arranged for a crew to come through and test the house. They came with some interesting equipment to test for cold areas, recorders etc. They spent a few hours in the house and I followed along for much of it. After several hours, they had determined that there were definite cold areas in my bedroom, the rocking chair in my room had started rocking on its own and they had asked questions and received responses from someone in the cellar! I should mention that after the crew left, I was staying in the house by myself; I think Denny or Tom were coming out the next day and I had to meet with them. Let me just say, it was a very uncomfortable evening, even with my four dogs in the bed with me and the lights on! Unfortunately or fortunately, I lost touch with the crew and did not receive a copy of the recordings or their findings so I cannot torture myself by constantly listening and letting my imagination run wild.
My friends Brandy and Jeannette stayed at Morton Hall one winter and have a couple interesting tales to relate as well; but I will let them tell those in a later post!