When daylight descends and darkness rules, it’s primetime for ghost hunting in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Ghost Hunters Society, founded in 1997 by Rick Fisher, investigates and researches haunted houses.
“If you want to be a paranormal investigator, keep an open mind,” Fisher said.
A typical investigation on a haunted site uses an electric magnetic field detector, a camera and a thermal scanner.
The thermal scanner detects changes in temperature, an indicator of paranormal activity.
“Our research has shown us that sometimes outside the ambient air temperature there may be a decrease in temperature of up to 50-60 degrees,” Fisher said.
The PGHS doesn’t jump right into an investigation. First they interview people who live around a haunted site and ask them if they have ever encountered anything out of the ordinary.
“There really is no correct criteria for determining if a place is haunted,” Fisher said. “We try to rule out every possibility.”
A common claim is dripping blood on the walls.
“We try to ignore those people. I don’t believe that happens,” Fisher said. “I’ve picked up negative feelings, but I’ve never encountered anything evil or demonic.”
Fisher recently hosted a conference on ghosts at Gettysburg, an area known for supernatural sightings.
Cathe Curtis, author of soon-to-be-published “Haunted Fields of Glory,” is one of the many people who have encountered ghosts at Gettysburg. Curtis is not an investigator.
“I’d be a hypocrite to investigate that which I’ve known for a full lifetime most definitely exists,” Curtis said.
In October of 2000, Curtis journeyed to Gettysburg to celebrate her birthday with friends. Near dawn, Curtis and a dozen friends gathered on the battlefield and saw something out of the ordinary.
“[We] saw half a company of Union soldiers gathered on our side of the road approximately 20-25 feet away from us. They appeared to be in deep prayer,” Curtis said.
Curtis called out to the phantom soldiers, but calls went unanswered.
“When there was no response, I knew that these were not individual spirits, but that this was an open time portal,” Curtis said.
Curtis said the image lasted for about ten to fifteen minutes.
Curtis spoke to a re-enactor later that day. He told her only ten re-enactors were in town, and they came for a living-history event.
“He firmly stated that he and his small group of men were still asleep in their tents in front of the museum until nearly 7:30 that morning, and he was the first to awaken,” Curtis said.
Scenes of conflict and ghosts seem to go hand-in-hand.
Nick DeCrescenzo of Langhorne says his house on Old Swift Road is haunted.
The house, built in 1761 by Thomas Morgan, is perched upon a slight hill overlooking a creek and a forest served as a hospital for soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
DeCrescenzo said he awoke suddenly one night from the sound of his dog barking.
“I swear I saw an image of a little girl,” DeCrescenzo said.
His uncle, known to be a skeptic, sprinted out of the room a couple of nights later.
Morgan placed an ad in The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1772 searching for a runaway girl, around the age of 15, named Judith Fagan. Fagan was Morgan’s Irish slave girl.
She didn’t just run away once, but three times.
DeCrescenzo’s friend, Tim Frenette, also experienced ghostly encounters in the house. His experiences there inspired him to become involved in ghost hunting.
Frenette and his friend Anthony traveled to the Logan Inn in New Hope.
“It was one of the most haunted places in the Bucks County area,” Frenette said.
They acquired the necessary equipment: EMF detectors, thermometers and a tape recorder.
“We got in the room and right away the lights started flickering on and off,” Frenette said. “I knew we were in for a long night.”
Around 4 a.m. they checked the tape recorder. It died.
“It wasn’t running on battery power. It was plugged into the wall,” Frenette said.
In darkness just before dawn, they sat in silence, waiting for something to happen.
“The window shot right up. This is one of the oldest buildings in Bucks County,” Frenette said.
He told Anthony to get off the bed; he wanted to leave right then.
“He looked at me, and he said, ‘I can’t move.’ Every hair on his arm was standing straight up. I’ve never seen him scared before,” Frenette said, “He was really, really scared.”
Fisher said he doesn’t try to convince skeptics that they have to experience it themselves.
Frenette echoed the sentiment, “Most people don’t really believe in ghosts until they experience it. It is scary. I feel privileged. I’ve experienced something not many people have.”
Matt Stringer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org