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Historic American Haunts - Our Topic of the Month!

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#1 Jeff Belanger

Jeff Belanger

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 08:50 AM

Dear Ghostvillagers,
Ghost investigators are among some of the most passionate historians I have ever met. We know that a ghost is nothing without setting it in some historical context—whether that context is recent history, or centuries ago. Exploring ghosts is a unique way to connect with our past.
Recently I was talking to an historian who I could tell was offended by the whole notion of ghosts and hauntings. I don’t attempt to convert anyone to anything when it comes to my work, but sometimes I can’t keep my big mouth shut. What set me off was when he said, “I don’t go in for the ghost stories because there’s no basis in history for them.”
“Actually there’s nothing but a historical basis for them,” I said. You can’t ask a single question about a specific ghost without asking who he or she was and what he or she was doing in this location. I asked this historian if he really cared why people took an interest in history. If your profession centers on retelling the story to the best of your knowledge and ability, do you mind whether your audiences’ motives are to hear about the ghosts or if they just want the dates, names, and locations?
There’s an old adage that historians shouldn’t have a country. Meaning if they’re going to be truly objective and get the story as close to the mark as they can, they should set aside any feelings they have for their own country or heritage and try to navigate the names, numbers, facts, and figures with neutrality. I think we should add to the adage that historians shouldn’t have a belief system, either.
History isn’t an exact science. At some point we can only speculate as to what some historical figure was thinking right before he ordered his troops into battle. Journals and outcomes can give us insight, but we’ll never know the minute-by-minute thoughts of anyone. It’s left to us… and maybe the ghosts… to figure out what happened. The most important part of history is the quest itself.
Like all noble pursuits, it’s a quest for truth.
All over the world there are locations where history demands to be remembered, but this month we’re going to explore some notable American haunts. The locations where history left a mark, or dent, if you will. The White House, Gettysburg, The Alamo, Wounded Knee, a complete list could fill a thousand newsletters. What often sets these locations apart in priority is how much we as individuals care about them. How close we feel to the location or the story.
When we’re exploring a haunt, we’re climbing into the story... into history. My expectation is to learn all I can about what happened in the location and remain open to the possibility that I may catch a glimpse of something from the past. It’s exhilarating. It keeps me searching for the next location, the next story, and more history.

Supernaturally yours,
Jeff Belanger
Mayor of Ghostvillage.com
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#2 TheresaRHPS



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Posted 19 June 2013 - 06:08 PM

The historical aspect of paranormal investigation is my passion, and it always has been. Whatever approach you take, history has such an impact on this field. The stories themselves are great history...even without historical documentation, lol. While that statement is counter-intuitive, people often forget the historical and social value of folklore and urban legends. Hehe, but I've found through my own work as research manager for my group that even some of these strangest "legends," actually have a small grain of historic truth...and that sometimes, the truth is even stranger than the made up parts of the story, lol.

I may be biased since I'm an historian, but I feel like the historic research aspect of an investigation is the most important in the actual investigation process. (In general) You have to have stories or reports of a haunting to even choose a site to investigate...and of course, you want to find physical evidence, such as EVPs. But its the history that is the glue that holds it all together. The history can provide credibility or debunk the actual stories. It can also lend a whole new context to any "evidence" that is collected, sometimes giving it a little more "oomph."

I've also learned, especially through my work with our haunted history tours, that ghost stories are a great way to teach history to people who otherwise might not have an interest. We strive to make our tours as historically accurate as possible and its great to see people, especially kids, completely engrossed with and remembering the history and details of the Great Flood of 1937 because they heard the story of the "witch" who predicted the entire event!

Having said that, I also find historic research to be totally frustrating. Sometimes hours and hours sitting at the microfiche machine or at the courthouse poring over old deeds leads to great victories where all the pieces of the puzzle come together. More often than not, the information is either just not there...or goes against everything you thought to be true, lol. Sometimes, its just a tedious process. While there is no other place I'd rather be than in the library surrounded by local history, the smell of old books and the the eye strain sometimes triggers a migraine, lol. Still, I wouldn't change it for the world. That's why I started my personal website...to bring some of the history to the well-known haunts of my state that had previously been listed on various websites with glaringly wrong information.

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