Ghosts of the Prairie



There are not many locations within the confines of Indiana that I can firmly state are genuinely haunted. In order to be able to do this, I have to have had some sort of experience at this location myself, be it capturing strange photographs, unexplainable readings or something else. As for one location however, I can truly say it is haunted... although my experience here was much more than just a photograph. You see, it became the place where I actually first saw a ghost!

Located along a secluded road in the woods of northwest Indiana is a private residence and farm that has been the scene of reported paranormal phenomena for years. The owner of the farmer has often stated that the strange events here began not long after she moved in. It started innocently enough when she decided to build a barn on the foundations of a small cabin that had once stood on the property. The original structure had burned down many years ago and all that remained of it was the building's stone outline. It was here where the new owner had the barn erected.

However, this may not have been the true beginning of the haunting. It is believed the spot was haunted for many years before she ever came here, and even perhaps before the region itself was ever settled. Legends (not documented history) say that the land may have been along a trail by which Native Americans who once lived here traveled each winter to the Grand Marshes.

The lore has it that some died these journeys south, and the Native Americans searched for places to bury their dead near water sources and underground springs. Not surprisingly, the land that makes up this “haunted farm” has both, a small pond that is fed from an underground spring. Psychics who have come to the farm believe that the source of the haunting may lie near the mouth of this spring.

Those of a more scientific mind have often found that springs and water sources seem to attract ghosts and also act as a source of magnetic energy in affected areas. This energy can not only attract spirits to the area, but can also have a “ghost-like” effect on not only people, but animals and even electronic equipment. In fact, I was more than willing to believe that the area was nothing more than a magnetic “mystery spot” until my own experience convinced me that there was more here than meets the eye.... But more about that in a moment!

The list of strange phenomena that has been reported on the farm has been a long one and here, I will feature a sampling of some of the things that have been reported:

- eerie voices that have been heard calling out

- strange behavior by horses, dogs and other animals as if they sense something that the humans who are present cannot (more about this later!)

- lights turning on and off by themselves

- Articles of clothing being taken and moved about

- knives and scissors disappearing from the barn. One knife literally vanished for ten years before being discovered again lying in plain sight on the floor of the barn

- strange moving cold spots in the barn and on the property

- a mist that comes up off the pond and then comes and goes at will. It has even been said (although not witnessed by the author) that the mist has even “performed” on command, coming and going in response to requests from witnesses

In addition to the barn and the outdoor areas of the farm, the house that is located on the property has also been the scene of disturbances. Accounts from the house include instances of:

- Lights that turn on and off (sometimes by request)

- Water faucets that turn on by themselves

- keys and other items that vanish from the kitchen table, only to be returned later

- a rocking chair in the kitchen that rocks by itself and has been seen by multiple witnesses

- cups and other items flying off the counters

Despite the fact that the owner is contented to co-exist on the property with whatever is here with her, she has often opened the location up to investigations by legitimate paranormal research groups, including one in northwest Indiana and the American Ghost Society. The investigations that have been conducted here are rarely without some sort of reported phenomena. Investigations in the past have included:

- cameras and video cameras that mysteriously turn on and off

- camera shutter speeds that change without assistance

- new batteries that drain in moments

- strong EMF readings that come and go at will

- cameras and recorders that suddenly refuse
to work, only to start back up again in
other areas of the farm

- strange noises and sounds that cannot be explained

- a number of unexplainable photographs (like the one that accompanies this article)

A Strange photo that has been taken inside of the barn on the property (photo courtesy of Michelle Bonadurer)

In July 2001, I decided to accompany an investigation of this property and was taken there by members of the Shadows of Chicago ghost research group, representatives of the American Ghost Society in the Chicagoland area. The investigation team was made up of Michelle and Tom Bonadurer, Rob Johnson and myself. We arrived at the farm as darkness was just beginning to fall and found it to be a warm and humid night. Temperatures at the time were around 80 degrees and the humidity level was close to 80 percent. The temperatures would fall as the night went on, but the humidity never seemed to let up.

Thanks to maps of the property that had been made by Rob Johnson and which documented the locations where phenomena had previously been reported, we decided to center our investigations on these areas after taking a walk around the farm to familiarize me with it. The others had been here several times before and I was the only newcomer to the farm in the group. After this, we decided to separate and while Rob and Tom filmed, photographed and scanned the outside, Michelle and I decided to stake out the barn.

For the first two hours or so of the investigation, little of interest took place. It would be a short time after this that a few isolated incidents began to lead to more activity. In this time, between all of us, we lost three brand new sets of batteries. They had literally been loaded (and had been working!) prior to leaving the house and walking around the farm. In just moments, they had been drained.

The next incident took place in the barn, near a certain location that would be the scene of several occurrences this night. Before I get to that, let me explain the layout of the building. The barn is entered through a doorway that faces the house (about 40 yards away). To the left of the doorway is a lean-to / overhang that is used for storage and to the right is the corner of the barn and a gate that enters the lot. Behind the door to the barn is a short hallway or foyer that leads straight ahead to the main body of the barn. On the left side of the foyer is a narrow, wooden staircase that leads up to the loft. Straight ahead down the foyer is a horse stall. If you turn to the left, you enter the wide corridor that runs down the center of the barn. There are horse stalls in either side and on the night of the investigation, there were four horses in the barn. At the opposite ends of the main aisle were large, sliding doors that allowed the horses access from the building. Both doors were locked and secured on this evening.

Michelle and I were in the barn for some time and during this time, I scanned the barn with an IR video camera and with a Tri-Field Natural EM meter. As it was very dark, Michelle also kept watch on the area with a Multidetector. This device has a colored scale that allows the user to track down electromagnetic fields in complete darkness. During the vigil, Michelle walked to a point at the head of the main aisle (directly in from the doorway) and started to take a photograph. Even though her camera had been working fine all evening, it now refused to function. A few moments later, it did, although not until she moved out of the immediate area at the end of the aisle. While this was odd, it was the only incident that had occurred and so I decided to climb up to the hayloft and take a look around.

I was in the loft no more than five minutes or so before I received a call from Michelle, who was still downstairs. She had begun to pick up some odd energy fluctuations in the main corridor, again in the same area where her camera had stopped working. As I came down the stairs and turned the corner, I saw small red lights flickering on the Multidetector device that she was carrying. A few minutes before, there had been no activity in this area whatsoever. With that in mind, I brought over a Tri-Field Natural EM Meter to measure the area. I tuned the settings to pick up only natural magnetic fields and was startled to find that the readings in this small area were very strong. In fact, they were some of the strongest (strictly magnetic) settings that I have ever run across during the course of an investigation. They lasted for nearly ten minutes and then abruptly faded out and vanished. I have absolutely no explanation for what may have caused them.

After failing to discover a source for the high energy levels, and to find them again, we summoned Tom and Rob to the barn to tell them what had happened. After this, we decided to take a break and then to explore the other parts of the farm. During this time, we left an IR video camera set up in the barn to hopefully capture any strange activity that occurred during our absence. (We would later learn that we captured nothing out of the ordinary)

After a break, we set out toward the pond, skirting around a large woodpile that was about 8-10 yards from the water. Close to the woodpile, Michelle again picked up some strong readings with the Multidetector. I brought over the Natural EM meter once again and we found an area of about six feet in diameter where the energy seemed to be centered. Incidentally, Rob had earlier scanned this same area with no results. Within a few moments, the energy would dissipate, but not before the flash on Tom’s camera would suddenly go off without a photo being taken and without assistance!

As we neared the fourth hour of the investigation, Rob and I decided to return to the barn while Tom and Michelle stayed outside. By this time, the batteries had died on the video camera and the extra batteries had been drained. We were now without video but Rob and I set up EMF meters and decided to stake out the barn and see if anything strange occurred. We had been in the building approximately 40 minutes, checking the meters and talking when Michelle called us on the portable two-way radios that we all carried.

She stated that she had heard voices in the small pasture near the barn and a loud banging sound on the sliding barn door nearest the house. She assumed that we were coming out. We replied that not only did we not bang against the door, but we had been talking quietly and had not heard the noise inside of the building.

Just a few moments later, Rob and I did hear a loud noise and even afterward, have been unable to describe what it sounded like. I can only say that it was some sort of “groan” and that it was loud enough that it startled both of us. To make matters worse, the sound also spooked the horses and they began to snort, stomp and move about in their stalls. This is especially important in that one of the horses was a former military mount and is never frightened by anything! Whatever made the noise we heard though had the ability to scare this horse and the others as well.

Both Rob and I were especially unnerved by this latest development and in fact, Rob even mentioned to me that he was surprised the horses were acting so skittish.. and then we both stopped talking!

The foyer to the barn suddenly began to light up with a dim, yet brilliant, white light! It was extremely noticeable in than the barn was pitch dark at that time. As we stood there, the light filled the foyer as if someone had just walked inside with a lantern. As it happened, that’s exactly what we thought... that Tom and Michelle had entered the barn. Or at least that’s what we thought until what happened next!

The light seemed to draw itself through the wall of the foyer and into the first horse stall. As it did so, the foyer drew dark and the light caused the back wall of the first stall to be illuminated. The white was bright enough that it cast a glow toward us and through the bars of the stall. It was about the height of a person off the ground and almost flat and one-dimensional looking. It entered the first stall and then with the speed of a fast walk, it passed through the wall of each stall, all the way down the length of the barn and then vanished out the back wall!

Now, I should state that these impressions are based on my recollection of the events because at the time they occurred, neither Rob nor I comprehended what was happening. Even moments later, we assumed that Tom and Michelle were outside of the barn and had carried a flashlight past the outside wall of the building. I assumed (as did Rob) that a light outside of the barn could be seen through cracks and chinks in the wall. We soon found that this was not the case!

Almost as soon as the light disappeared, I called Michelle and Tom on the radio and asked for their location, still thinking they were just outside. To my surprise, they were still at the house and not been near the barn. In addition, there was no one else outside and no vehicles had passed on the road. I ran outside and called to Rob to tell me when he could see my light. I began to shine it along the outside wall of the building, even with where we had seen the light inside.... but Rob could see nothing! No light could penetrate the building! This meant that the light we had both seen had to have been inside with us!

Had we just come face-to-face with one of the farm’s resident ghosts? In all honesty, I believe that we did! You see, we spent the next hour going over and over the incident (which was not captured on film... we really thought it was Michelle’s flashlight until it was over!) and trying to re-create the sighting in every possible way that we could. However, we could not duplicate the odd sighting... it was absolutely impossible!

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote, “Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, no matter how improbably, must be the truth”.

In all of my years of paranormal research, I have had many strange experiences, but up until this time, I had never actually seen a ghost. The importance (at least to me) of what had actually happened in that barn would not sink in until later, when my always skeptical mind began to realize that no explanation existed for what I had seen. Even now, as I write this, I am only just beginning to understand that Rob Johnson and I saw a ghost that night on a farm in Indiana.

So, do you ask me if I believe this farm is haunted? I have to say that I do. Are they really ghosts here? And to that I can say... if seeing is believing, then yes, there are ghosts on this farm. I saw one!


©Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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