Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Perplexing Parallels of Pariss and Parish Sims

Pariss and Keziah Sims's tombstone,
erected by descendants in 1974,
Giles County, Tennessee
(posted by Mark Todd)

My Ulster-Scots ancestor Pariss Sims was as perplexing in genealogy as he was in life.

Some genealogies maintain his name was Pariss while others insist it was Parish, disputing whom he married, who his parents were, and where he was born and died. There are verifiable records that back up both accounts -- and sometimes at different locations at the same time.

Who was Pariss/Parish Sims?

Clearly, they are two individuals because of the records. But their narrative lives are complicated by several similarities:
  • Pariss had a father named James Barlett Sims, born in Belfast, Antrim County, Province of Ulster, Northern Ireland.
  • Parish also had a father named James Barlett Sims, born in Belfast, Antrim County, Province of Ulster, Northern Ireland.
  • Pariss had a wife named Keziah.
  • Parish had a wife named Grizel Kessiah
  • Both emigrated to Tennessee from North Carolina.
  • Both found their final homes in 1807.
The initial confusion stems from the often-sourced 1948 book by Almon Sims, The Pariss Sims Family. Then Almon Sims published a 1965 revision, in which he corrects the first book, announcing in a new forward that he made a "serious error, by confusing Pariss Sims, our ancestor of Giles County, Tenn., with Parish Sims who made Sims Settlement on Elk River, just south of Giles County, in Limestone County, Ala., in 1807, the same year our Pariss arrived in Tennessee from North Carolina. This error was caused by the two being confused in an early history of Giles County, Tennessee."

It took me months to sort out Pariss from Parish, and it turns out the two were related: Pariss Sims's brother was James Bartlett Sims Jr, whose first-born son was named Parish Sims. What follows are snapshot sketches of each of their lives, piecing together how these two individuals became so entangled.

Pariss Sims (1740-1833)
Pariss Sims (my fifth great-grandfather) was born between 1740 and 1750 in Belfast, Antrim County, Province of Ulster, Northern Ireland, to James Barlett Sims Sr.

Pariss and his brother James Bartlett Sims Jr were both born and grew up in a region where state-sponsored settlements were part of the Plantation (colonization) of the Province of Ulster in Northern Ireland, which had begun in 1609. This scheme, instituted by James VI of Scotland when he became King of England, was intended to confiscate all the lands of the Catholic Irish nobility in Ulster and to settle the province with Protestant Scottish and English colonists on confiscated land.

Ulster-Scots weathered the turbulent relocation and colonization, but throughout the 18th century, considerable numbers of these Plantation settlers began immigrating to the North American colonies.

Pariss's older brother, James Bartlett Sims Jr, emigrated to British Colonial America in the early 1760s, and Pariss followed with two younger brothers in 1765, settling first in Pennsylvania, but with Pariss later moving near Salem, North Carolina.

According to Continental Army pay vouchers, Pariss enlisted during the American War of Independence. Family tradition claims he served in Gen. George Washington's personal body guard, wintering at Valley Forge and even crossing the Delaware with the commander-in-chief.

He married Keziah Royster of Granville County, North Carolina, in 1782. The family moved from North Carolina to Tennessee in the summer of 1807: "With all their possessions loaded into a covered wagon, drawn by oxen, Pariss Sims and his family set out on a rugged trek," a trip that took some 40 days, and settled in what is now Giles County, Tennessee, according to Almon Sims.

Pariss Sims died in 1833 and is buried in English Cemetery, Campbellsville, Giles County, Tennessee.

Parish Sims (1762-1808)
Pariss's older brother James Bartlett Jr, had come to the Colonies in the early 1760s and married Elizabeth Parrish, who gave birth to their son Parish on in Patrick County, Virginia Colony. Presumably, Parish (sometimes spelled Parrish) was named for his mother's family. That birth occurred three years before Pariss Sims arrived in the New World.

James's family moved from Patrick County to Hawkins County, Territory of North Carolina (later to become Hawkins County, Tennessee), and Parish married Grizel Kessiah on  

According to Almon Sims, "Both Parish and his father were large land owners, had slaves, and were active in the early development of Hawkins County which in the early days included Claiborne, Hancock and Grainger counties, all in North Carolina territory."

Sims Settlement, Alabama
His father James died in 1793. Almon Sims's narrative states, "Parish Sims, with his wife Grizel (Kessiah) and their children, his widowed mother and most of his brothers and sisters ... started from Hawkins County in East Tennessee in the Spring of 1807 with four boats. When the boats had ascended Elk River ... [they] concluded to stop and settled what was long known as Sims Settlement, in Limestone County, Ala."

Later that same year, on 26 Nov 1807, Parish wrote his last will and testament, stating, "I, Parrish [sic] Simes . . . give to my beloved wife, Grizel, all of my estate." He died only a few months later in Sims Settlement, Limestone County, Alabama.

A Tale of Two Sims's
Uncle Pariss and nephew Parish were both sources for multiple generations of namesakes in the lines of both Pariss and his brother James. Not too surprisingly, confusion and conflation of the different lives of Pariss and Parish persist to this day -- not only for genealogists but even through the hand-me-down stories of their descendants.

But I know I'm on the right track: Through diligent research and comparisons made by my third cousin Patty Sims (or maybe third cousin once removed -- it's complicated) and me using GEDmatch, we've confirmed we share DNA -- Patty through Parish and me through Pariss. It never hurts to have a little bit of scientific corroboration to back up our genealogical digging!

* * *
Mark and Kym Todd are volunteers on WikiTree, a project to create the entire human tree.
Profiles, sources, and documents for the individuals described above are on WikiTree:

Friday, March 13, 2020

Not all Ulster-"Scots" were Scots!

(posted by Mark Todd)

One of the more satisfying aspects of genealogy research is those moments when information goes beyond mere statistical data, and a person's history begins to take shape and tell a narrative -- sometimes revealing glimpses of an individual's personality.

Such an instance emerged when I began researching one line of my dad's ancestors, going back five-plus generations to the eighteenth and seventeenth centures.

British Isles history buffs and genealogists are likely to be familiar with the so-called Ulster-Scots who immigrated to British Colonial America in droves during the eighteenth century, fleeing the turbulence of the Province of Ulster in Northern Ireland at the time.

But fewer casual researchers realize that Ulster was home to not only relocated Scots but also a large population of resettled English during Ulster's Plantation conlonization, initiated by James VI of Scotland when he became King of England in the seventeenth century. In effect, the colonization was intended to confiscate all the lands of the unruly Catholic Irish nobility in Ulster and to resettle the province with not only Protestant Scottish but also Protestant English colonists on the confiscated lands.

But several generations of resettled Ulster colonists had grown weary of the strife and feuding that resulted, and many determined to relocate to the Americas.

Not too surprisingly (given my strong roots in the American South), I had already discovered a strain of true Ulster-Scots from the family of my maternal grandmother (born a Sims, and more on this controversial lineage in a future post). So when I found another group of transplanted Ulster colonists on my paternal side by the name of Gray, I immediately assumed they were also Scots. But as I delved deeper, I discovered they had hailed three generations earlier from Essex, England, just north of London -- a far cry from the English-Scottish borderlands.

It took a bit of further investigation to make the connection: these paternal Ulster ancestors had settled in the town of Derry in Northern Ireland, which was soon renamed Londonderry by the settlers, to reflect their origins. That group was also comprised almost entirely of families from the London area-based "great guilds." So much for the mystery of the English rather than Scottish origins on that branch of my family tree.

But when I started tracing down records and documents for the branches of both grandparents who had arrived from Ulster to the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the story started to become more personal -- especially since it involved two separate immigrant families who remained unrelated until joined in marriage by my ancestral fourth great-grandparents.

The Story between the Lines

Matthew Gray Jr (my fourth great-grandfather) arrived in Worcester County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, in 1718 as a ten-year-old, accompanying his father Matthew Sr and his grandfather John Gray Jr, alongside other new immigrant families from Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The new arrivals were not particularly welcome in Masschusetts Bay, shunned, as it were, by the second-generation Puritan descendants already in Worcester County. Only 26 years earlier, in 1692, the English king had issued the colony a new land charter that shifted voting rights from Puritan church membership to land ownership.

Cotton Mather
According to historian Charles Bolton, Matthew Sr’s father “John Gray had land laid out to him by the town's committee November 26, 1718.”

Bolton explains, Puritan forefather and minister "Cotton Mather had in mind very early that the emigrants from Ulster would be useful settlers on the frontier. In 1718 the village of Worcester could claim a position on the Massachusetts frontier, although it lay only forty miles from Boston. First settled in 1674, it was deserted in King Philip's war, 1675, and again in Queen Anne's war, 1702."

According to Bolton, however, the Ulster Presbysterians "came to act as a buffer against the Indians, and instead of welcome they received surly conversation from the few inhabitants who turned out to meet them."

Another Ulster family had arrived in 1718 from Londonderry: Hugh Kelso, his wife Sarah, and their two-year-old daughter Jean (my fifth-generation grandmother). By trade, Kelso was a wheelwright, a craftsman who built and repaired wheels for wagons and carriages.

Ten-year-old Matthew Jr would not likely have paid much attention to two-year-old Jean (my future fourth great-grandmother) on the two-month voyage to the New World. But the town was small and both the Gray and Kelso families attended the same church in Worcester and participated in the same circles of community involvement.  Sixteen years later, when Matthew was 26 and Jean was 18, the two married in 1734 in Worcester.

By trade, Matthew Jr was a "Scaler of leather" (leather-tooler) and "Hogreeve" in 1724 in Worcester. (A "hog-reeve" was a Colonial New England constable whose job it was to prevent or appraise damages made by swine.) 

After 1737, according to records reported by Bolton, "The lands now included in the town of Pelham were being opened for settlement, and on the 21st of January, 1738-39, John Stoddard arranged to settle a number of families ... such as were inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland or their descendants, being Protestants." Names included in this resettlement as "proprietors" included John Gray Jr and Matthew Gray Sr.

Record of deaths for both Matthew
Gray Jr and wife Jean (Kelso) Gray
But records suggest that Matthew Jr did not relocate to Pelham with his father and grandfather, some 30 miles from Worcester. Instead, Matthew Jr and Jean remained where her parents Hugh and Sarah Kelso still lived. Matthew's father-in-law signed a will on 14 Jun 1737, in which he refers to Jean's husband as "my well beloved son Matthew Gray," and to whom Hugh bequeaths his "wearing cloaths [sic]," a gesture that suggests Matthew and Jean were regularly present in the Kelso household in Worcester at that time, and Matthew had become like a son to Hugh Kelso.

Hugh died only two months later, and he named Matthew's grandfather John Gray Jr as co-executor to his estate, revealing how close the two families had remained.

Old Common Burial Ground in
present-day Worcester, Massachuestts
On 14 June 1742, Matthew and Jean had a daughter in Worcester named Jemima (my third great-grandmother).

Jean died 22 years later in 1764, and Matthew would go on to marry twice more before dying himself in 1783. But at his death, he was buried next to his childhood sweetheart in the Old Common Burial Ground in Worcester.

* * *

Mark and Kym Todd are volunteers on WikiTree, a project to create the entire human tree.
Profiles, sources, and documents for individuals described above are on WikiTree:

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Welcome to our Genealogical Adventures!

For us, it started with DNA tests that whetted an appetite for discovering our own roots. Before long, we were exploring the ancestors who gave us those genes.

From family records and relatives' anecdotes, we learned names, dates, places, and stories about our parents and grandparents.

But it didn't take long to exhaust those resources in reconstucting our earlier generations.

One branch of Mark's family came over from England during the Great Puritan Migration of the 1600s, plus a bit of Cherokee mixed in later. (Or so he thought!)

Kym's family came to this country only three generations ago from Norway and Germany. (Or so she thought!)

We next researched available genealogical resources and services, trying out several as a way to methodically recreate our respective trees. At first, it seemed easy enough, and within a few short months, we had each compiled enough second-hand sources to track our seperate roots back a couple of thousand years!

Problem was, we soon discovered not everyone researches their own roots as meticulously as we wanted ours to be. We knew we had to look harder to get the facts straight.

And so began our real initiation into genealogy.

It's an ongoing project with surprising stories and unexpected roots. Mark's ancestors weren't Puritans after all (nor did he have a lick of Cherokee), and Kym's relatives from Germany turned out to be from a small Friesian island that was as much Danish as German.

We had our work cut out for us.

And so began our serious exploration of our genealogical roots. It's an on-going passion, and the lessons we're learning in how to research (and where to verify the "facts" we'd collected earlier) have been eye-opening -- not only for our own family stories but also for the connections we've discovered to the larger human tree.

In this blog, we share personal family stories but also the genealogical journeys we discover along the way. And we plan to share the lessons we're learning as well as a few tips that just might save others the time and trouble of having to back-track and correct earlier mistakes.

Despite the detours we've taken already, the journey has turned into a marvelous journey we never expected -- one we hope will reward those who choose to look over our shoulders as we forge ahead.

Our Farewell to the Paranormal

Dear readers and fans,

What a journey it has been!

From UFOs to ghosts, from field investigators for MUFON to Wild West Paranormal Investigations --  we've conducted over 150 investigations in the past nine years for our own "X-Files," experienced more than our share of unexpected encounters, and have had to re-assess what we thought Reality was.

But we've also come to realize some mysteries will never be solved -- at least, not in this world. We feel we're no longer making new contributions to the conversation, and so it's time to pass the baton to others in terms of active research into the unknown.

Our warm wishes to all of you who have joined us on this journey, albeit often vicariously through our accounts, our live Tweets, and our vid clips.

We still seem to be obsessed with The Dead, but ironically, it's now become more personal!

Our journey has now led us to a new passion, our genealogical roots, which has consumed more and more of our time as we research and seek out our forebears. We realize this will be an entirely new audience, and many of you will no longer care to follow our historical exploits.

So to many we say farewell. To those of you with leanings toward the fascinating and often surprising revelations of who all of our ancestors were, we say welcome!

For the past two years we've divided our time between "ghosties" and our explorations on WikiTree, FamilySearch , and Ancestry, and what a rollercoaster ride this new jounrey is becoming.

In future postings, we look forward to sharing the complex discoveries we've been making about our own ancestors but we hope to contribute these findings as specimens of what lies behind all of our pasts.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Investigating with #ZakBagans at the Museum of the Mountain West

With at least six reported violent deaths in the various buildings on the premises, it's no wonder the Museum of the Mountain West (MMW) in Montrose, Colo., is one of the most haunted locations we've investigated.

Mark, Zak, and Kym
So it's little surprise it would draw the attention of the Travel Channel's most popular and continuously long-running reality ghosthunting show, #GhostAdventures, hosted by an investigator who could only be described as ghosthunting's most famous celebrity, #ZakBagans.

But we never anticipated we'd get to meet him -- let alone have an opportunity to investigate alongside him!

But we did both.

How did this happen?
Having the Ghost Adventures team focus on this faux frontier town one mile east of Montrose was not a matter of good fortune: MMW curator Bob DeQuinze and Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators' (HPI) founder Hector Zeferino had courted execs at the Travel Channel for three years to make the visit a reality. (It didn't hurt that Hector had also conducted investigations at two other sites previously investigated by Ghost Adventures and had consulted with Zak about what to expect. We had the good fortune as well of teaming up with HPI for one of these investigations.)

By the time the Travel Channel and Ghost Adventures decided to visit the museum, our own team, Wild West Ghosts, had already conducted three investigations at the site as well, one as a joint initiative with HPI. We had our own findings and multiple documented encounters (see these links: MMW Investigation Part I and Part II) that became part of the television series' research into whether or not the museum was worth their time.

And then they invited us to be part of their on-site preliminary investigation.

Our small part
 Zak turned out to be a regular guy -- ya never know if fame will change someone's personality. But we found him friendly, a bit mischievous, and actually on the shy side. He interviewed Mark on camera about his ghosthunting class at the university (Mark's day job), the class that had participated during one of our earlier investigations. And then he offered a chance to help conduct a preliminary investigation inside the Carriage Works building at the museum.

Naturally, it was around midnight!

For those who follow our accounts, you may recall that the Carriage Works has a dark history that includes a vigilante lynching and a man kicked to death by a horse, plus a fair amount of current paranormal activity.

Zak invited us to conduct a prelim investigation in that building prior to their own team's lock-down. We hadn't placed such an opportunity on our bucket list but quickly penciled it in, so we could check it off.

After spending some time on the floor level inside the old livery building, we steered him to the stairs leading to the second floor. We'd previously obtained some intriguing responses by both KII and spirit boxes on the stair landing, so we suggested he give that area a try with his digital audio recorder.

When we encountered a cold spot on the landing, Zak called for one of the team's Mel meters, and we spent several minutes while Zak asked for interaction with whatever inhabited that area. At the point where we started to ascend the flight of stairs just above the landing, we all felt a tingling in front of us that seemed to pass through us, and Zak asked if someone (unseen, of course) was there.

Eventually, we climbed the steps up to the second level and stopped to see if we'd captured anything on the digital audio recorder. Reviewing the audio for the period of time we spent just above the landing, we listened to Zak's question asking if anyone was there, and the recorder immediately captured a clear EVP that responded, "Behind you." In other words, the landing directly behind us.

At that moment, Zak became dizzy and decided to go outside. After about ten minutes, he hadn't come back, so we returned to the first level and out the main doors, where we found Zak sitting on a bench, head in hands. He looked up and asked if we had felt anything strange while we were listening to the recording. Truth be told, guess the excitement of conducting an investigation with THE Zak Bagans made us giddy, but not dizzy, and we had to confess that we hadn't felt anything.

Later, when just the GA team returned to the Carriage Works, something more did happen and team captured a shadow figure on camera on the second floor. (See the episode for that documentation.)

Alas, it was a GA-team-only lock-down for that investigation, and we all had to wait for the airing of the episode to find out what happened to them.

Still, we did get a selfie with Zak that night, and a check-off on our bucket list. Plus they took a copy of our book and are considering some of the locales we include in our book for future investigations!

Watch the episode online at

Wild West Ghost Paranormal Investigators (that's us!) returned to the museum for an encore investigation the weekend before Halloween, armed with info the GA team shared with us about their findings not only in the Carriage Works, but also in the Empire House (the so-called Murder House) and Saloon. (Details to follow in the next post.)

We're still having as much fun documenting current and ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of that book for either armchair musings or else as a guide for your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can buy the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for links.

Until next time, happy hauntings and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Investigation: Old Bank Building, Fruita, CO

In mid-April, we had the opportunity to investigate the Old Bank Building in downtown Fruita, Colo., at the invitation of the Lithic Gallery and Bookstore, which occupies half the second floor.

Old Bank Building today
Bookstore owners Danny Rosen and Kyle Harvey sponsored a presentation about our book on haunted hotels and also invited the public to observe our investigation of the premises following the reading. About a dozen stayed on and participated.

Fortunately, we'd invited our good friends at Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators (HPI) to join us, so we were able to divide the observers into two groups.

We also had on our own team an additional seasoned guest investigator from the area, Deb Anderson. Were we ever glad she agreed to help out! Read on.

History of the Building
Postmaster Frederick S. Bruner in 1914
Courtesy of the Lower Valley Heritage Chapter, via Steve and Denise Hight, we learned that the building was erected in 1904. According to Steve and Denise, "It was designed as a business block, meaning it had three suites with their own entrances on [the ground floor], and some upstairs suites with one common entrance on South Park Square. 

"The Odd Fellows Lodge was upstairs for many years, and they shared their space with the Freemasons. The Bell Telephone switchboard was also upstairs for many years. Earlier tenants downstairs included the Fruita Post Office."

In 1905, robbers broke into the building, and dynamited the safe in the Fruita Mercantile Company downstairs. and then tried to dynamite the bank safe, Steve and Denise reported. A telephone operator in the building heard the uproar and contacted the police, but the culprits fled before getting into the safe. They were never caught.

The Investigation
Post Office in 1913
Our inquiries produced only one account of paranormal activity in the building, but it's an intriguing one. Juanita Marie Freeland writes, "My mom would always see an older lady go through our fridge and disappear. My dad moved the fridge one day and there was a small room behind a door. We would also hear a noise coming from upstairs that sounded like someone dragging something very heavy. This always happened at 3 a.m. Nobody lived directly above us. Our place was set up kind of weird and we had bars on some of our windows. This was in 1979-1981."

Her home would have been on the first floor, southeast corner of the building -- the former location of the Fruita Post Office (shown above as it looked in 1913). The dragging sounds coming from the second floor would have occurred in space now occupied by the Lithic Gallery.

Deb Anderson with sidekick "Oscar"
This account came to us after our investigation, alas. And since the location referenced in the above account is occupied by a current business, we didn't attempt to gain permission to investigate that area of the building. 

In the portions of the structure available to us (and that constituted some 5,000 square feet in six occupied and unoccupied office spaces), we didn't pick up any unexplained activity on our instruments through most of the evening. But then, at one point, Mark asked if any unseen presence could identify members of our team. The immediate responses were "Deb, "Debra," and "Debbie,"  two with a male voice and one time with a female voice. 

Deb announced she thought she heard the voice of her dead brother coming through. 

A walk-in to the investigation?

(Actually, it's not that uncommon to pick up voices that have some sort of a connection with those present during an investigation, whether or not they're connected to the premises where that  investigation occurs).

We invited Deb to take over the conversation. Below is the exchange that took place. (The stick figure you'll see on the video is our Kinect infrared camera mapping one of the other investigators -- not an entity!):

Deb's EVP conversation with deceased relatives

In the above exchange, the ghost box repeats the name, "Bub," which Deb later told us was her deceased brother's nickname. On a previous occasion, she told us she had heard him say, "Hi, Deb," but that came through only once using her own ghost box. This time we also heard someone call her "Debbie," which is what her mother called her before she died.

When Deb shared the above video clip a few days later with her two nieces (Bub's daughters), they both confirmed that the male voice sounded like their dad.

During our session using the EchoVox in the Old Bank Building, Deb was also able to successfully use our K-II electromagnetic (EMF) meter to elicit on-command responses using lights on the K-II that correspond to increased EMF. (Most paranormal investigators report that EMF disturbances accompany paranormal activity, and that's been our own experience as well.)

It's so nice when multiple instruments reinforce one another during our experiments!

After the Deb's exchange using the EchoVox and K-II, one of our observers asked if we ever got responses in other languages. Actually, we had documented responses in German at a hotel in Cripple Creek, where frontier mining operations had included immigrant German miners.

Then the guest observer at the Fruita investigation, whose name was "Cristal," asked a question in Spanish. We didn't realize it at the time, but in later analysis of the audio recording, we were surprised -- and pleased -- to discover that we captured on the EchoVox several responses to her in Spanish. [We'll add those findings to this account at a later date. Stay tuned!]

On another note, while we were conducting our investigation in one part of the bank building, our sister investigators from HPI also experienced their own activity. Using an entirely different kind of ghost box, an SB-7, that team did manage to have an entirely different interaction: They captured rude responses involving a lot of cursing. When we investigated that same space later in the evening, however, we got nothing. (Be sure to check out their findings on the
HPI Facebook page.)

We're still having as much fun documenting current and ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of that book for either armchair musings or else as a guide for your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can buy the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Halloween Investigation: Museum of the Mountain West, Pt 2

This is the second of our two-part account of the investigation on Halloween weekend October 2016 at the Museum of the Mountain West (MMW) -- a collaboration of three paranormal research groups that conducted round-robin investigations at six locations within the museum's sprawling grounds near Montrose, Colo.

Museum of the Mountain West
(Click here to see Part 1 of this two-part account.) 

The investigation included 18 researchers consisting of Wraiths in the Thick of Things, Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators (HPI), and a group of university students that Mark and Chris have been training as part of the next generation of critical paranormal investigators. (We'll publish more on this project in a forthcoming article for the National Paranormal Society's Focus Magazine.)

A note on our methodology
Mel on the left and K-II on
the right, with investigator's
finger pointing at the device
You'll notice for the following video clips that each team employed a combination of K-II and Mel meters. Both meters used in these experiments are designed to register EMF (Electromagnetic Field energy), and increased EMF is a phenomenon often reported during paranormal activity.

Key to the experiments, however, is using two meters, where investigators ask for interaction with one meter (generally the K-II) but not the other. This helps us, as investigators, to eliminate the variable of random EMF emissions from the surrounding environment that could affect both instruments during each session.

We're also careful not to actually touch the K-II unit when pointing to it (cautious about contamination due to a possible grounding effect).


The Main Building Dry Goods Store
The team Mark led with student trainees first swept this one-room store to establish baseline EMF readings and then preceded to ask a set of agreed-upon questions that both Wraiths teams asked in each locale. In the following clip, you'll hear some of those scripted questions. At one point, however, a team member asked about attachment to particular garments in the store (see our earlier article on paranormal accounts by museum staff and visitors), and that question prompted an unexpected conversation via K-II responses. Here's that exchange:

Our K-II conversation in the Dry Goods Store

This Dry Goods Store interaction was one of the most surprising of the evening since that session suggested an intelligent haunting through a conversation with an entity well aware of our presence, and the respondent was willing to help us locate not only the particular dress but also a particular pair of shoes.

The Louise House
At one point during the night, Wraiths investigator Chris led another set of student trainees in a session conducted in the so-called Louise House, an early-day Montgomery Ward mail-order home that was later relocated to the MMW. In this session, Chris's team used not only the K-II/Mel meter combo but also consecutive sessions first with the Spiritus and then with the EchoVox spirit boxes. See their results in this clip:

Coordinated K-II and spirit box responses

What really got our attention is how the two separate spirit boxes both produced the name of "Annette" and how the K-II responded when Chris repeated that name later on in the session. Listen carefully to the spirit box recordings to hear what additional responses you think the team may have captured.

The Empire House
We've saved sharing the most intriguing investigation for last, one that took place in a building only recently moved to MMW, and so named because of its Empire-style architecture. However, this former home has a darker name applied to it by locals: "The Murder House."

The structure once stood near the middle of town in Montrose, and it was the site of a the 1940s. HPI investigated the location before its removal to MMW and reported a number of chilling experiences, including invisible scampering footsteps of children and a dark energy that menaced their team. (See HPI's Facebook page for those accounts.)

Wraiths team member Egan (our resident sensitive) also scouted out the building prior to its move to MMW, and she reported that the Murder House also contained a dark presence as well as the persistence of the woman who was murdered there. During our Halloween weekend investigation at MMW, Wraiths student-trainee Trenton saw from outside the house the shadow figure of a woman cross the bay windows of the living room. (At the time, no one was inside the building.)

Once we entered the house, Wraiths student trainees conducted a session on their own in the stairway where the woman was murdered on the third step and may have interacted with that murder victim:

 A K-II conversation with a murder victim

While the above session took place, in another part of the house Egan reported that she no longer sensed the dark energy she'd felt before the building was moved to MMW. But of equal interest was her impression that the woman was still in the house, and now content. It was an intriguing corroboration to what the student trainees captured in the above clip.

Further corroboration of that finding occurred when HPI conducted their separate investigation of the Murder House later that same evening (shared here with HPI's permission):

HPI's EVP capture in the Murder House

This extraordinary EVP, which HPI captured on the audio track of their video recording, seems to confirm our own findings that the dark energy was no longer in the Empire House. (EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon.)

Our joint investigations at the Museum of the Mountain West were ambitious, but it was also very fruitful. We want to return on a future date, of course, to see if we can replicate not only the responses we obtained but also the same kinds of interactions we recorded.

We're still having as much fun documenting current and ongoing investigations as we did conducting the investigations for our book, WILD WEST GHOSTS.

There are puzzling experiences and encounters aplenty out there, and you just may want to pick up a copy of that book for either armchair musings or else as a guide for your own expeditions into the fascinating world of the paranormal.

You can buy the book as either an e-read or a trade paperback. Visit our Website for links.

In the meantime, happy hunting!