By Michelle Ann Kratts
You hear something. A voice. Footsteps. At first you reassure yourself that it is only the cat.
You see something. Someone? Moving in the darkness. Perhaps it was only your imagination.
You feel someone. The room is icy cold. You are not alone.
You ARE not alone. Many other residents of Niagara County have experienced the same sort of things. Some are embarrassed to admit anything is out of the ordinary. Some have had things happen around them since they were children. There are people in Niagara who live in terror. They are afraid of night and its possibilities.
A few years ago I talked with Amy K., a local medium (and owner of Amy K’s Mystick Corner), about the fact that Niagara County seems overrun with paranormal occurrences. Why…of all places? It was then that she told me about the falling water. Falling water is a natural root cause for paranormal activity. Strange and supernatural things do happen around falling water. And we certainly have our share of falling water!
I meet a great deal of people who believe their houses are haunted. I have even had teenagers come in anxious to learn if anything gruesome ever happened in their homes. Often the teenagers are the ones who admit to seeing shadow women in long dresses, men in uniforms, little girl ghosts. I have learned to make sure I jot down their contact information in order to help them pursue any research, as in the past I have lost some people. Once anything gets to their parents it is always questionable if we can proceed with any sort of investigation. A lot of adults just aren’t into this sort of thing. Especially after we have finished the historical research part of our investigation and we are on to the next phase.
I don’t really know much about the spirit world. Personally, I have never had any encounters that make me a “true believer.” Maybe a few dreams, a few what-ifs, but never that solid evidence to prove to me once and for all that there is no death. When those people who come to me want to take things further, I know just where to send them—right into the expert care of NF Paranormal.
I met Jimmy Silvaroli a few years ago. We were having some strange things happen at the Lewiston Public Library and our director had no problem inviting our local ghost hunters in to check out the situation. It was only the beginning of a great partnership. It was inevitable that we would need each other. He needs historical background information in order to gain some understanding of the strange situations he encounters and I need someone to send my people to for their paranormal needs.
So what can you do if you think your house is haunted? If you come to me, I can take you back in time. Sometimes it is quite comforting just knowing the people who also called your house their home. There are a lot of old houses in Niagara County and you might be surprised what sort of things actually happened in your house! Many houses with paranormal activity are actually not very old, though. NF Paranormal believes that these types of hauntings may possibly come from contact with items. Perhaps you have brought some “haunted” items into your home. And there is always that possibility that long, long ago there were dwellings on your property--long before your search was printed out. Of course, there were Native American settlements throughout Niagara County, as well. We are not so sure of their exact locations but most likely people have always made their homes close to fresh water sources.
When you come to meet me at the Lewiston Public Library I am always grateful if you bring along your house’s search. This lists all the previous owners of your property and even goes back to the time hundreds of years ago when the Holland Land Company was carving out this section of New York. I am most interested in those people listed in your search. Once we know the people we can check through files, look them up in books, censuses, directories, vital records. Ancestry.com (which is available free of charge at the library) is a treasure for researching your house history. We can also check out maps and look for property lines. My favorite source of all, however, is old newspapers. This is where you will find the “juicy” information. This is where you will find the murders and suicides. This is where you find weddings and funerals. This is where you will find pictures. You can look through old Niagara Gazette newspapers (all the way to 1854 and up until the early 1970’s) on a free website: www.fultonhistory.com. You can type names or addresses into the search box and you will be surprised at what you will find. There really is a great deal of information out there for you to access and so much of it is free. All you need is a little time and a great deal of passion to fire up your searches.
And if you feel you are ready to take the next step…NF Paranormal is waiting for your call. Check out their website: http://www.nfparanormal.com/wordpress/ for contact information.
What advice do they give in the meantime? “First and foremost, remain calm,” Jimmy says. “Don’t make nothing into something.” Learn the history of your home—so you know what you may be dealing with (regarding possible tragic events, etc.). Call NF Paranormal. They work free of charge and are happy to help people make sense of what is happening. Depending on your faith, you may feel it necessary to have your clergy bless your home. We know for a fact that this does quiet things down. If things are completely out of control, you may choose to have a sage cleansing done of your home. This is a classic method of dispelling unwanted spirits. Many people do sage cleansings when first moving into a home. I bought some white sage smudge sticks while I was in Lily Dale this summer. I’m sure they are available online, as well.
When NF Paranormal does an investigation they first interview the residents to find which areas seem to be hot spots and concentrate on those areas. Their focus is on gathering evidence. And usually their biggest piece of evidence is EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. They set up voice recorders (just regular tape recorders or digital recorders) in various places and try and prod any spirits into making a response. Actually, we have had numerous EVPs discovered on recordings in the library. My daughter, Caitlyn, and her friends have spent many hours investigating the library. They founded their own paranormal research group, InSpirit Paranormal. Their EVPs have startled me. There is nothing like hearing a disembodied voice tell you in that ghostly, breathy whisper…”I hate you…!” And by the way, yes, that is exactly what I heard from a recording made in the Lewiston Public Library. I have also heard: “I am so tired…”
No one is really sure what an EVP actually is. Are there sounds and voices in the air, do they somehow adhere to the recording devices? Or are they actually intelligent beings finding a way to communicate with us? The verdict is not out yet.
A few nights ago, I had a few friends from NF Paranormal in the library to discuss an investigation. Before they left I asked these fearless ghost hunters one last question. What scares YOU the most? Lisa Silvaroli (Jimmy’s wife) said that she is most afraid of things that can’t be explained. There have been so many occasions when outrageous things have happened to her yet there is no logical explanation. Jimmy said that he is most afraid of “things” following him home. He said it has happened…where an unsettled spirit has attached itself to him. Being fatigued on an investigation will make this happen, he warned. Amy Wall, another investigator, said that she is most afraid of the things “you’re not expecting” and the voices that tell her to “get out.”
And Jimmy has one more little fear that he never fails to mention when we are together: Ouija boards. Under no circumstances should anyone play with Ouija boards, he says. They are a gateway into other worlds in which we are not prepared to enter. I always smile, when he talks about Ouija boards because I’m not so sure if I agree with him. Maybe some of us are not so unprepared for confrontations from the other side.