I have truly never talked about this with almost anyone before. But, hand on heart, everything I say is true — and extremely spooky!
About the Episode:
Attention: this episode is not for the faint of heart! If you aren’t into spooky specters, ghost sightings, or spirited old homes, go ahead and hit skip. ‘Cause it’s Halloween and it’s about to get creepy up in here!
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- The often sad (but true!) history of my house across the last 30 owners
- Why I’m so confident that this house has a spirit (and that I’m in direct communication with it)
- The pearly specters and poltergeist-like occurrences that have happened around our old home
And so much more!
Follow me on Instagram @FarmhouseVernacular!
Hello and welcome to The Vernacular Life Podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that goes on in our turn of the century, vernacular farmhouse. I’m your host, Paige, and I am so excited for this episode I can hardly contain myself. Now, this is going to be a Halloween episode. Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I love the spooky black cats, I love the sparkly witches, I love the grinning full moons, I love the bats, I love the whole glamorous, wonderful, witchy holiday.
So, this is a bit of an episode disclaimer; if spooky stuff and friendly spirits makes you a little uncomfortable, we might just skip this one, okay? Because this has been a question I’ve gotten many, many times since I started sharing our whole renovation journey and old house journey, and I’ve never really answered it. Truthfully, it’s kind of out of fear, because when you put yourself out on the internet and you are talking about things that people get weirded out by, you get a bit of backlash, if you know what I mean.
But I have decided that I just simply love this topic so much and love Halloween and love the whole fantastic holiday, that it’s time to share a bit of the sordid history of this house, and then some of the ghostly friends that we have hanging around these parts, because we do in fact have some of them.
Okay, so if you’re ready, I would ask that you buckle your seatbelts into your broomsticks and securely fasten your witches hats, maybe tighten your shoe buckles a little, give those cauldrons a stir and let’s get a bit spooky. Just personally, I have always been “sensitive”, if you want to use that terminology. I don’t fully know what I believe one way or another, I just know that I’ve seen and felt way too many weird things for there to be absolutely nothing to it.
It’s always manifested as knowing weird things that I shouldn’t with high degree of certainty, but not necessarily things that you can prove, like I’ll look at a picture and be like, “That person died,” or, “That person was killed,” or just weird thoughts like that. Then also just getting very strong vibes off of places. I’ve had cellars that I won’t go into because I said there were people down there. I see things out of the corner of my eyes. It’s always been something that I’m aware of.
I try not to really treat it with fear, because that’s the one thing that I’ve learned, is that I treat seeing anything the same way that I would seeing a person; I say, “Hi,” I say, “What’s up,” and then I go about my day and it’s never really caused a problem for me. It has given me some direction as to whether or not to go certain places or do certain things, but for the most part it has just sort of been a thing that’s always been there.
Now, this is very weird to talk about, because I’ve never talked about this. There has always been something behind me. That’s so strange to say out loud, but I’ve always felt that there’s a specific spot on the top of my back that when I’m walking through something that feels not okay, that spot just lights up and I’m like, “Yep. We’re not good. We don’t like that. We’re getting out of here.” That’s always been there. It’s always been there in some degree. Sometimes it’s been more intense, sometimes it’s been less intense, but walking into this house, it completely went away, which was extremely strange and it was part of the reason that I think why I was so drawn to this house. I was like, “Oh, it’s peaceful here. We like this. There’s nothing spooky going on.”
From the beginning, walking in here, I was like, “Okay, I really like this place. I have very good vibes here. This doesn’t feel remotely strange at all.” It felt like coming home, and everything in this house, down to the closets and the doors and the floors, nothing was surprise. It all felt very familiar. It was very strange, but this house has a bit of a tragic history and I don’t think he’s been properly loved since the original builder.
I think the original owner built in around 1905. He purchased the land in 1903, so I’m thinking 1905, 1906, 1907, plus the architecture of the house, that gives me that timeframe for building. He lived here with his wife and I think he had five or six children, two of which were already born by the time he bought this property, which also is why I think he built pretty quickly, because if you have two kids, you need a bigger house, got to build.
He lived here until very late in 1943, when he fell and broke his hip on the property. After that fall, he was transferred to a local hospital, he stayed there over new year’s and then very early in 1944, he passed away. Now, I grew up with my mother being very involved in the care of older adults for her entire career and so I have a bit more knowledge than most people will do, I think, about the kinds of things that go into aging.
So, if you’ve heard me talk about why we put the laundry on the first floor, why we put a bathroom on the first floor, why our bedroom’s on the first floor, it all has to do with aging in place, and it’s all because I have that reference of knowing what it takes to be able to stay in your home when you age.
It’s very simple, common sense things of first floor living and making sure you have a walk-in shower without a curb and making sure you have doorways that are wide enough for wheelchairs and all sorts of things like that. So, because of this, I do happen to know that the trajectory of falling, breaking a hip, having pneumonia, passing away is a very common trajectory. It’s very, very common, pretty much all the time. So, when I found his death certificate and I saw that’s what happened, I understood; I was like, “Okay, that’s what went on.”
The only historic picture I have of the house came from a card at the property evaluation administration, and it was taken in 1944. That was the point where his son sold the house for the first time. First time in the house’s history that it had been sold. He lived there from roughly 1905 to roughly 1944, so almost 40 years, quite a tenure at this place. This is where the house starts to get sad.
I have suspicions that this house was not built particularly well to begin with, and that’s just based on what we find when we open up these walls; the plaster was not installed very well, some of the building quality is a bit questionable. I just don’t think that this was a super high dollar, high precision house to begin with.
And then starting in this 1944 with this sale, it was his son who facilitated the sale of the property, the house, and all of the land, this seems like the beginning of a long, sad time in the house’s history, because this house, if you listen to the episode on finding out your house’s history, you know that deed hopping is one way to figure out how old a house is, where you basically look at your deed of sale and then follow that all the way back to the original owner.
When I did that, I think I must have gone through 30 or 40 deeds of sale for this property, which means that this house has been sold 30 or 40 times, so 30 or 40 families came through, and for a long time it was rented so they had different tenants all the time. Just looking at the way this house was renovated, nothing was careful, nothing was respectful, everything was just, “Let’s fix this. Let’s put more on top of it. Let’s just cover it up so that we can get the next tenant in here.” There was no care and pride in the house.
So, that’s why I feel like when we got here, between 1944 and 2016, 2017, that’s 70 years-ish, that’s a long time for a house to be neglected. It did undergo a huge renovation during that time and I’ll tell you about that in just a second, but I just feel like this house was not a home or not a permanent place for a lot of people in that time, at least not people who were willing to give him the attention that he needed, willing to respect him the way that he needed to be respected, willing to really just put in the care that was needed for this house.
After he was sold in 1944, a bunch of people bought it, and then my knowledge of this is a bit fuzzy up until about 1979. This knowledge has come about through a combination of writing that we have in this house and information from the neighbors. Inside our master bedroom closet, there is some original beadboard left. A lot of it has been taken out because it was combined with the furnace closet under the stairs, but there’s a bit left, and on this writing, it says, “September 10th,” I think, “1979,” somewhere around there, it said, “Merna passed away, drowned.”
I remember the first time I saw this, my heart just sank because as if that message wasn’t sad enough, Merna passed away drowned in 1979, right underneath it there is another message that says “September 10th, 1980,” one year later, “Not married yet.” Being the hopeless romantic that I am, that just broke my heart unbelievably. What’s very interesting is that we also acquired pictures of this house from aerial photographs, and we have one from 1979 and we have one from 1980.
At that point, the house underwent a massive renovation. They tore out a ton of original trees, they pulled down original porches, they changed the color. I think inside, they put subfloor down and carpet everywhere. They shortened the doors. They put wood paneling on everything. They pulled out all the trim. They changed the windows. This was a grieving renovation. This was the renovation of someone who has lost their love and doesn’t know what to do with themselves, so they completely throw themselves into overhauling the house as best they can for 1980. I think this is also when the spray foam insulation was put in.
This was just… To me, after reading that and then seeing the work that they put here, this was a renovation of frantic grief; of needing to have something to do, some outlet for this tragedy, and so they put it into this house. And as far as I can tell, that was the most love that this house was shown in his entire existence. So, we knew about Merna from the writing and we knew that some tragedy had happened there.
Well, we have neighbors around here and quite a few of them grew up in this house in the, or in this area, seeing this house in the fifties and the sixties and the seventies, so they saw all of these changes happened, and I asked one of our neighbors about Merna. I said, “Do you know who that is? Do you know anything about it?” Oh my gosh. As if it wasn’t sad enough that she drowned, apparently it was a family. It was the husband, and the wife was Merna, and there were children. They were swimming at a lake or a river or something, and an accident happened and he was able to get all of the kids out safely, but he was not able to get to her and so she drowned.
As far as I know, after that happened, the house really started to have a string of tragedy along with it. There was a man who purchased the house and his wife was not really interested in coming to live in the country, so he eventually convinced her, “Hey, this is going to be a great place to retire.” And soon after he convinced her, his son ended up with a very aggressive form of cancer and he had to sell the property in order to take care of his son.
The people that we bought it from, they didn’t really do anything to it. They didn’t really seem like sad people. They didn’t have any great tragedy, but I do know that they were trying to sell this house for eight years. They only lived here… They had lived here for four years before they tried to start selling it, and they could not sell it for eight years until we came along and bought it.
When we were renovating the dining room, I don’t remember exactly what it said, but we found writing on the wall that said things to the effect of, “Get rid of this horrible house, this is so terrible, I’m sorry you bought this, it’s such an awful money pit, it’s so bad.” All of this is painting a picture to me of a very tragic house. Nobody had a good time here. This was nobody’s safe, wonderful, fantastic home.
I personally find this so sad, because I have talked before about how much I love this house and how much I feel connected to it and how much I feel like I can listen to it and I understand what he wants, and I may not have done everything perfectly, but I think we’ve given the best try that we could have to make this house look as beautiful as he possibly can.
So, when I read about the original owner dying, and then I saw all of that quick turnover and all of those owners and all of those renters, and then I heard these tragic stories about people dying from sons with cancer, and then the previous owners who just wanted to get out of here, and then we found that writing on the dining room, it’s just like all of that leaves me with a very somber impression of what this house went through for 70 years before we bought him.
I have an episode coming up about how to listen to the house, because it’s one of the most important things I think that I’ve done in this renovation, and it’s that the house had a personality when we came here. He was very reserved, he was very quiet, not really sad, but just resigned, and since we’ve renovated him, I feel like he’s really blossomed, and I feel like he’s brighter and he’s warmer and he’s happy, and he’s peacocking around, showing off all of his beautiful interiors and his bold colors.
So, I feel like, and maybe this is way too self important, giving myself way too much credit, but I feel like we have loved this house properly for the first time since he was built, and that makes me really happy, and I hope that makes the other residents of this place happy as well.
As I mentioned earlier, I have always been in tune and aware, and it’s definitely something that the more you pay attention to it, the more you see and the less you pay attention, the less you see, so I don’t try to shut it out, but I don’t go actively looking for it. But we have a few friends around here and they’re fun. They’re very fun. There are two individuals who hang around that I know of, they’re very respectful, they never come in the house, they’re always outside the house.
The first one who doesn’t show up quite as often, I haven’t seen her in quite a few months, is a woman who’s dressed in circa 1915 clothing, all white, and she walks through the front yard. I usually see her passing a window in just a very quick glimpse. If I look harder, she’s gone, but I’ve seen her two or three times in the front yard, always walking from left to right, hair up in like a Gibson Girl situation with a hat, and she’s got this beautiful white lace, three quarter length sleeve, it looks like a dress, but I think it’s a skirt and top ensemble, and she’s just very peaceful, and she hangs out in the front yard. I’ve only seen her twice, and every time I do I say hi, because that’s very important and I’m going to hammer this home again; when you see anyone or you feel anyone, say hello, always.
We’ll talk about the biggest one in a minute, but then the other thing that I’ve seen out of the corner of my eye before are carriages pulling up down where the driveway is. I’ve only seen them a few times and it’s just a very quick flash, I just see a carriage pull in and then it goes away, and so that’s fun.
But the best one, I don’t know who this is, I think it’s the original owner, I think it’s the builder; he’s tall-ish, he wears black pants, a hat, white shirt, and he hangs out outside the house. But the interesting thing with him is that he just watches and sees what’s happening, but he finds stuff for us, and he’s done it over half a dozen times at this point. The very first case of it, we had a key for one of the outbuildings and we kept it in a specific spot and it had disappeared.
I didn’t know where it went and it had been gone for several weeks, but I hadn’t really mentioned it, Brandon hadn’t really mentioned it, nobody had really said anything about it, so we just let it go and it just wasn’t something that was brought up. I knew it was missing, I knew it wasn’t there, but we hadn’t really mentioned it.
One day we are sitting there and I say to him, “Hey, do you know where that key went?” And he goes, Brandon goes, “No, I haven’t seen it in a couple weeks.” I was like, “Okay,” didn’t think anything of it, left alone. I want to say it was either one or two days later, I walk into the kitchen and the key is sitting on the table. The key that we missed. We knew it was that key because this key was outside, and the key that was on the table was very dirty, very tarnished, very apparent, that’s like, “Okay, that’s actually the key.”
I saw it on the kitchen table and I called Brandon and I said, “Did you find the key?” And he goes, “Yeah, you are never going to believe where it was.” He found the key inside our closed wardrobe, inside his shoes that he wears every day. He wears those every single day. So, the previous day they weren’t there, this day they were there. But the previous day, the shoes were in the wardrobe and they didn’t have a key in them, and then when he went to put his shoes on in the morning, about two or three days after we talked about missing the key, the key was in the shoe.
I just looked at it and I got one of my feelings, and I was like, “You found that for us. Well, thank you. That’s so helpful.” Again, I thought maybe it was in the pocket of one of Brandon’s pants and it fell perfectly down into the shoe. I didn’t know. You start thinking of all these other things, but I didn’t really think of it.
Since then, we have had half a dozen things found that exact same way. That key has been found again in various places. I lost my credit card once, it was somewhere in the house, but I had no idea where I had displaced it and it was missing for four or five days, but again, I had never said it out loud. I’d only thought it. I only thought, “I really don’t know where my credit card is. That’s very annoying.” Then one day I was standing in the kitchen and I remembered the key, so out loud I said, “Yeah, I don’t really know where my credit card is. That’s annoying.” And I just left it.
Two days later it turns up in our box of gloves, underneath a bunch of pairs of gloves in a place that I would never have left it, like ever, I would never have left it there, and all of a sudden there’s my credit card. As soon as I found it, I just busted out laughing and I said, “Thank you.”
There have been other instances. I keep a pocket knife in my purse for cutting things if I need to, and I lost that once and it turned up on the seat of one of our vehicles outside, and just over and over and over that’s happened of just finding little things. And that’s all that happens. Nothing ever moves, nothing ever jumps or bumps or creaks, literally nothing ever happens. It’s just that if I’ve lost something and I say out loud that I can’t find it, in a couple of days it’ll turn up somewhere.
Now, whether or not we are just being careless, whether or not those things actually were always there and I missed them, you don’t know, we have no idea, but I get a funny feeling every time it happens, and just on off chance that it is my little friend who hangs out there, I say thank you. And I say, “That’s really helpful and I really appreciate it.”
Whether or not you believe this stuff, I’m not here to try to convince you because my take is, if it’s not real, it’s not going to hurt anything, and if it is real, I am not making it worse. If I ever feel anything, if I ever feel concerned or I ever feel spooked or creeped out or anything, I’ll just start talking about what I’m doing. I’ll just say, “Hi, I’m painting the walls in the kitchen right now. This is a very nice yellow, don’t you think? I think it’s a really great color and I love that we were able to salvage all that original beadboard.”
Or if I take out a window, “I know I’m taking out the window. I’m really sorry about that. I tried to come up with a layout that worked to keep that window and I just couldn’t come up with a good one. We saved all the beadboard though, and we’re just going to put the windows in a different spot.” I’ve heard from multiple people that just talking about what you’re doing, explaining what you’re doing, saying hello, saying, “Nice to see you,” saying, “Have a great day.” If there is anything, maybe it’s just my brain playing tricks on me, but it makes me feel a bit better and the house seems to like it.
The longer we’ve been here, the house has definitely come out of his shell. I think he’s very happy. He’s very proud right now. And I think he’s waiting because his insides look so nice and fancy and one day his outside is going to look that nice and fancy as well, and so I think he’s waiting to show the world, “You think I’m still this little old house with the vinyl siding and you have no idea that I’m about to be an absolutely spectacular shining star.”
That’s pretty much all we have in terms of funny stories, and my cheeks hurt right now from smiling so much, because I think this topic is just so funny to talk about and talking about it around Halloween just makes me so happy. So, I hope you enjoyed that, and if… I have gotten questions before about “Oh, I want to live in an old house, but I’m really worried about it being haunted,” or, “I’m really worried about getting scared,” and my experience has just been to be chill about it and nothing’s really happened. If you want to believe that those are spooky spirits, then you are perfectly entitled to, and if you want to think it’s just me being forgetful, that’s totally fine too.
I hope you enjoyed that in this spooky Halloween season. I hope that it was a bit fun for you. Maybe. Hopefully I didn’t scare you too much. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled vernacular content very soon. You can check out any references or anything in the show notes as always, farmhousevernacular.com/podcast. Thank you so much for listening, I really appreciate having you here, and I’ll see you next time. Bye.