Monthly Archives: September 2013

Flying monkeys….

When friends would come to visit me at Morton Hall, I have heard everything from “WOW” to “that place freaks me out” to people saying they see flying monkeys perched on the roof of the back porch.  I say, “such sissy babies”… Morton Hall has been nothing but good memories for me.  Now, I am not going to say that it has been perfectly peaceful and no noise; more like a calm tranquil place with quirky little things that occasionally happen.  I grew up in an old farm house and experienced my share of noises from childhood to early adulthood.  Hearing noises and “feeling” things was just a part of my childhood; my parents would often sugar coat it by saying” it’s trucks on the highway!”  Funny how that was enough to calm my fears which I can say is probably one of the ONLY reasons that made staying at Morton Hall so easy for me.  What’s even funnier is how my children would hear noises at Morton Hall and I would feed them that very same line… Its trucks on the highway!

One of my very first experiences was when I was at the Hall alone.  I was on the telephone talking with a friend and had this weird feeling wash over me.  It was so bizarre; I felt very dizzy and light headed and even told my friend Crissi that I didn’t feel so well but to keep talking to me and at any point if I seemed unresponsive to please send them to Fox Hole Rd. Galena MD, first driveway on the left and that they will find me in the upstairs back section of the house.  Now of course with Crissi being in PA this startled her ALOT and I remember telling her to “chill out.  I just don’t feel right and in the event that I stroke out I want 911 to know where to find me.”  She kept talking and making sure that she said things needing my response so that she knew I was still with her, but what she didn’t know was that I honestly was a little concerned for the way because I knew it just wasn’t right.  A few minutes passed and I remember telling her ” ok, I am fine… whatever that feeling was, it is gone now.  I am getting tired, so I am gonna go to sleep.”  I disconnected the call and heard this loud clanking noise downstairs.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the steps.  When you live in a house, you quickly learn to distinguish sounds and become familiar to them without being in view of what is making the noise.  Well, that night when I heard that sound, I immediately knew that it was from the black door with a barrel bolt that goes into the foyer of the brick portion of the house.  Of course my blood was pumping… I was in this huge house all alone!!! But my reaction was to make a phone call to Jeanette to make sure she wasn’t on the property before I decided to have a look around.  When I called her she ordered me to go downstairs and “get the sword.”   I chuckled, thinking “really?!” that is not going to do me any good!  So with her on the phone, I approached the steps and went down a few so I could have a peek downstairs.  I looked around from the steps, didn’t see anything that looked out of the ordinary and simply went back up the steps and settled into bed.  A few hours later, Jeanette shows up and walks up the steps asking,  “What the hell happened downstairs?” I remember saying, “ I don’t know.  What’s wrong?”  She then explained how there was a bunch of material all over the floor several feet out away from the brick wall. I went down stairs to have a look and sure enough there was mortar all over the floor from the brick wall.  The odd thing is that it landed on a nicely plush carpet which would have been a sound barrier.  I just shook it off and went on about my routine.  Of course for some people, that would be enough to make them jump ship and change residency to a place less creepy. However, I didn’t let it faze me and continue to stay.

Another time Jeanette and I were lying in Laurie’s bedroom and my kids were in the apartment portion of the house.  There is a door at the top of the steps leading to that room that I would leave open so that the kids were able to just walk through easily.  From a dead sleep, Jeanette and I awoke to a door SLAMMING shut and before we could even say anything, the sound of footsteps walking through the lower level of the house.  Instantly, I assumed someone broke into the house and was walking through from the front of the house toward the back where my kids were sleeping.  Jeanette quickly jumped up, grabbed her gun and instructed me to go get the kids and immediately return back to that bedroom while she went out the other door to search the house.  By the time I had gotten to Kelly’s room, the kids were meeting me with fear in their eyes asking if I had heard that noise?  I said, “Yes, that’s why I was coming to get you.  Hurry up and get into Laurie’s room and get in the bed.”  We quickly got on the bed and they jumped under the covers and waited.  A few minutes passed and one of them says, “Mom, how do we know if Jeanette finds somebody?”  I said, “We will hear gunshots!”  Now the waiting game….waiting  what seems like FOREVER for Jeanette to return, listening to the sound of silence in hopes that I do not hear her fire that 40 cal. she went out the door with to clear the house.  I can remember thinking that she doesn’t even have a phone to call if she needs help because she took off in a tank top and underwear.  Then we hear footsteps coming through Laurie’s bathroom and up the steps toward her room.  Boy, did my kiddos dive under the covers when they heard that!  It was Jeanette and she turned up with no news on her search.

Turns out it took her so long because she cleared that whole entire house including the attic and cellar with no luck on a door open or even unlocked for that matter.  The whole house was closed up tight that night and the 2×4 was still over the front door that we thought the person came in through.  Never once did I mention anything to my kids about the sound I heard, but when we were all laying in the bed together, my kids started talking quietly and amongst themselves described it exactly as I would have.  A loud SLAM of the door and someone walking down below even to the extent of the direction the person was headed from the front of the house heading toward the back.  The interesting part is that there was a whole section of house (brick section) that divided us, yet they heard the same exact thing.  Now the part that I forgot to share was that this all took place on a Friday night but in the wee hours of the night.  On Thursday night, there had been a car that pulled into the driveway and a lady got out and came on the back porch (slightly intoxicated at 1:30 a.m. to visit… isn’t that what everyone does at that hour?!) she began telling us how her father grew up in that house and that he had passed days prior and his funeral was Friday.  She started crying and said she just wanted to come back to the place he grew up and asked if she could sleep on the porch.  We told her it would be best if she didn’t since she had a long day ahead of her and she went on her way.  The slamming of the door incident was the very evening of his funeral.  Now, with my previous experience with noises in the farm house I grew up in, I was able to brush it off as that man that died finally came back home.

Never once have I felt threatened by any of the unusual happenings INSIDE Morton Hall.  I have always had a sense of peace and serenity there even when my friends were completely freaked out.  Notice I said inside… that is because I truly mean inside.  I have always felt like there was a protective barrier from porch to porch with that house.  Once I step off the porch (front or back) I have a very uneasy feeling, but it seems to be only with the outside grounds and that’s it.  For me, confirmation of my uneasy feelings outdoors was confirmed one year on March 21 when I happened to go spend the night at the Hall for my birthday.  That morning I woke up and went outside to do a little yard work to help Laurie out and as Jeanette was cutting daffodils for me, for my birthday, I managed to come across a piece of a tombstone that I assume Laurie had found and stuck it to the right of the back porch.  I was curious as to where the other piece of the stone was, so I began looking around.  Much to my surprise, I found the other half and put them together to discover that the person had died on March 21 many years prior and that was the very day I first saw this tombstone.  Now, THAT was kinda freaky to me!

In a nut shell, if I was asked if the house was haunted, my answer would be “YES…. well …. NOOOOO.” I associate haunted with pranks and scary incidents; seeing things and feeling them so much that it will give you shivers down your spine.  I don’t have that feeling about Morton Hall; granted I have had some raised eyebrows, blood pumping, deer in the headlights look but was always able to chalk it up to someone (spirit form) just coming “home.”   So I talk to them and make them feel welcome and politely  but firmly announce that I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THEM AND DONT SCARE ME!!!!   To this day, I am very thankful that they have listened to my request and I always look forward to my stays at Morton Hall when I come to the East Coast. 

FYI…. those bat/bird sounds in Kelly’s fireplace are kinda creepy when you first hear them! ha ha

Glad I could share….

-Brandy

“Is it Haunted?”

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!