Some came for the thrill, some for the fun and others in the spirit of annual fall traditions as the Farmers’ Museum held its 17th annual Things that Go Bump in the Night Ghost Tours.
The ghost tours, which run Friday and Saturday evenings beginning in mid-October, began in 2002 as a cohesive way for staff and visitors to share stories with the public regarding supernatural experiences that have taken place throughout the years at the museum. The name, Things that Go Bump in the Night, is derived from a book by the same name comprised of more than 200 folklore rooted, New York state based stories written by Louis C. Jones, which were compiled by Jones and his students while teaching at Cornell University. Jones was the director of the New York State Historical Association, which oversees the Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmers’ Museum, from 1947 until his retirement in 1972. He is also credited with founding the Cooperstown Graduate Program, a museum studies master’s degree program, credited through SUNY Oneonta.
“This tour is really rooted in a lot of history,” Patrick MacGregor, director of interpretation at the Farmers’ Museum, said. “You think of the holidays we celebrate today, whether Halloween or Christmas, and there is almost always a reason, an origin, behind each tradition and activity. Rather than pumpkins, Celts would carve turnips or beets and go door to door with a piece of lit coal inside, offering to pray for the souls of anyone who had died in that household that year and, in return, would be offered a baked good known as a soul cake. This contributes to our traditions of both carving pumpkins and modern-day trick or treating.”
The tours, which are led by a single lantern in the candle-lit historic village, make stops at the main stone barn, the blacksmith shop, the tavern and the More house — each building with a host of its own spooky stories to tell from those compiled throughout the years.
“This is such a fun thing to do this time of the year, we come often. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Bill Wassel of Cooperstown said.
“We try to come whenever we have out-of-town company visiting, which happens to be most years,” continued Wassel’s wife, Lyn.
“They really know all the best spots,” John and Loida Coughlin, the couple’s out- of-town guests visiting from New Jersey, agreed simultaneously.
Each tour concludes with a rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” performed by Michael Henrici.
Most stories are based on things that museum visitors and staff have either seen, heard or experienced and include things such as disappearing tools in the blacksmith shop, the sound of metal and a ball bouncing and children giggling, the unmistakable scent of pipe tobacco smoke when no one is around, feeling something brush past or a sudden explainable cold spot, a girl in yellow peering from the same window and much more.
Hour-long tours will run for one more weekend, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 each half hour from 5:30 until 8 p.m. Visit www.farmersmuseum.org for more information.