Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

October 25, 2012

Paranormal acts spook Cooperstown

By Michelle Miller
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Legend has it that sounds of ghostly children have been heard running up and down the third floor hallway of the Otesaga Resort Hotel.

This is just one story that has been told about the historic landmark, and other sites in Cooperstown. 

The village has become known for its paranormal activity in part because of the SyFy channel’s television series “Ghost Hunters.”

In 2010, lead ghost hunters Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson brought researchers to check out the sights and sounds firsthand. Some of their experiences were featured on the show. However, Cooperstown has had a lot more spooky happenings, according to Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tours guide Bruce Markusen.

While Markusen’s tours include a discussion of the ghost hunter’s experiences, he also tells stories of traditional locations such as the Christ Episcopal Church graveyard, the houses of Byberry Cottage, Greencrest and Pomeroy Place and the haunted Otsego Lake. 

He tells the stories of a few famous residents who continue to “live” in Cooperstown even though they’ve been dead for more than 150 years.

The Otesaga has a long history of hauntings, according to Markusen, who has been providing ghost tours since 2004. He says there has been paranormal activity on the ground, first, third and fifth floors of the hotel and some believe the phenomenon is connected to the site’s history.

From 1920 until 1954, the hotel was also a private girl’s school known as the Knox School for Girls. 

According to a former cocktail waitress, she would sometimes hear a low monotone voice slowly calling her name while working in the Glimmerglass Room. She said other staff would hear their names called as well.

A security officer has said he has heard people walking above him on the second and third floors. He clams he has also heard a music box between the second and third floors.

Ghostly sightings have also taken place at The Farmers’ Museum, where several tales are told during the “Things that go Bump in the Night’’ guided, lantern-lit tours. The museum will host the hour-long tours every half hour starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26; and Saturday, Oct.27.

Museum interpreters will lead tours around the grounds and recount the mysteries and ghostly happenings that have occurred in the museum’s historic village. The tales will be adapted from the Louis C. Jones’ collection of regional folk tales, “Things That Go Bump in the Night.”

Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 547-1452. Admission is $10 per person, ages 3 and older.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has always been home to living history, but the ghost hunters tried to find ghosts from the past while there.

Findings were revealed in a sixth season Ghost Hunters’ episode.

According to interviews with HOF President Jeff Idelson used in the show, there have been a few signs of paranormal activity at the museum. For example, Idelson said visitors have heard voices coming from the 19th Century Gallery, but nothing has been seen. He said one visitor and his family heard voices that sounded like Ted Williams’ that said to “persevere, to have courage, to excel and be great” coming from overhead while viewing an exhibit featuring the hall of famer. Idelson said it was emblematic of how Williams was late in his career.

What makes it unique is there are no audio or video monitors in the area, Idelson said on camera.

Idelson said visitors have said they have heard male voices perhaps from the hall of famers, coming from the plaques in the Plaque Gallery.

HOF Communications Director Brad Horn told investigators one employee said when vacuuming the rotunda, she would get a really strong feeling that someone was standing right over her shoulder. Every time she stopped the vacuum, put it upright and turned, nobody was there, he explained.

Investigators took their equipment and searched for life forms from beyond to see if they could provide any answers or clarification to the claims.

Hawes said the HOF is full of artifacts and many of them are from those who are not living anymore, so it would make sense to find paranormal activity in a place of its kind.

“One of the theories is that the spirits can attach their energy to an object that played such an important roll in their life,” he said.

While investigating the 19th Century Room, Ghost Hunters investigators tried to entice the ghosts from baseball’s past to come out and speak about the game and provide tips and lessons.

While doing this, Hawes thought he heard a noise that sounded like a “gurgle or something similar to that.”  Investigators stopped to try to record the sound, but were not sure if it would be a success because the noise was subtle.

While investigating the Ted Williams exhibit, investigators thought they saw a full size shadow moving down the hall way. Investigators chased the shadow as they saw it go into the 19th Century Room. When they reached the end of the hall, they looked around to see if another investigator was there and saw nobody.

Investigators Amy Brui and Kris Williams thought they heard the sound of a door opening and closing while looking over the third floor. They decided to open and shut nearby doors to see which ones sounded the most like what they had heard. The women determined it must have been the men’s restroom. Williams said that conclusion made sense because most artifacts in museum belong to male baseball players or managers and the idea of them walking in and out of the men’s restroom instead of the women’s room would not be that out of the ordinary. The women set up a camera on the door in case it happened again.

Investigators Britt Griffith and K.J. McCormick tried their luck in the Plaque Gallery.

McCormick thought he saw a movement in the corner of his eye and heard sounds that indicate that someone may be moving around. The investigators said they are unsure if the sounds and sights could be coming form a former ballplayer or fan.

Griffith then thought he heard a high-pitched sound so the men decided to sit down and be quiet to see if they can hear more. They heard what sounds like a scream of some sort. They get out a recorder to see if they can pick up the sound.

During the “Reveal,” a sit down with Idelson at the end of the show to report the finings, Wilson said the area where the employee felt a presence when vacuuming had a high electromagnetic field. This can make a person feel creeped out, he explained. Investigators were not able to catch the shadow on video, but were able to determine that nobody else was in the area during the time of the sighting.

“Well at least we know it occurred,” Idelson said.

Wilson said upon investigating the Plaque Gallery, the team realized real quickly that the room is built like a cathedral designed to project the voices of speakers. He said investigators heard a voice, but it was too rough to “clean up.”

Audio from the sound of what was thought to be from a door opening and shutting was presented to Idelson. As he listened, Idelson said he “definitely” heard the noise. “I don’t know what to make of that,’’ he said.

While on the second floor and getting ready to exit, investigators heard a noise that sounded like a female’s voice that showed up during analysis.Wilson said the team typically looks for full words and sentences, but because it was the only experience in that location and because they had documentation of it, he thought it was worth showing to Idelson.

Markusen has so many ghost stories to tell. According to his website, when he first began researching the topic of ghosts in Cooperstown, he didn’t expect to find very much. He was merely hoping to find enough material to use as a script for a haunted walking tour, much like the ghost tours offered in Gettysburg, Salem, Savannah and Williamsburg.

“To my delight, I uncovered so much more, from old legends that had been passed down over the years to newer stories of hauntings and hobgoblins. I became rather surprised to learn that Otsego County (where Cooperstown resides as the county seat) ranks among the top 10 counties in all of New York state in producing ghostlore. I discovered so many ghost stories that the next undertaking became an obvious one-starting a ghost tour,” reads his website.

In addition to stories of ghosts and hauntings, the tours feature the history of the village of Cooperstown, including discussion of prominent citizens such as Judge William Cooper and his son, famed author James Fenimore Cooper.

The Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tours’ season will continue through October, with fall ghost tours being offered at 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night. Tours depart from Pioneer Park at the corner of Main and Pioneer streets and are available by appointment during the winter months. For more information, call 547-8070 or visit www.cooperstownghost.com.