Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seeking ghosts in all the phantom places

There’s nothing compared to a spooky Halloween tale to run chills down my spine. In this case, it is housed right in our own backyard in Livingston County.
I was out on a writing assignment when I made my discovery. For years I have lived in the Genesee Valley, and this one escaped me, or should I say, it was lurking in the shadows all along.
October is the perfect month to relate my adventure. Interviewing folks and listening to their stories, especially the very last priceless tidbit they tell as I am putting away my pen and pad, is the main reason why I love what I do.
I was told that if I were to visit the Allegiance Bed and Breakfast in Mount Morris, a ghost or two will be in the air waiting to greet me — that is, if I am lucky. I wasn’t so fortunate on that particular afternoon, but I suspect they were listening in to every word between owner Steve Luick and me.
From the outside the Allegiance looks like a replica of the White House in our nation’s capitol. It is set back from Route 36 (Main Street) surrounded by lush colorful gardens. Many people have stayed over the years, but two have taken up permanent residence.
Luick assures me that the two resident ghosts are friendly, and he is very comfortable with his permanent company. He doesn’t feel any gloom or sadness attached to them whatsoever. Occasionally, an object will drop with no reason in another room, or the stereo will turn on of its own in the front room. Luick smiles and goes on with what he is doing in the kitchen.
He would love to invite the ghosts to dinner to get to know them better. I might ask to come along, too. That would be a first for me-interviewing spirits, phantoms and their likes.
Karen and Ray are their names, and guests have spotted them three times on the second floor. On the original family tree there is a granddaughter named Karen, but as for Ray, who knows? He has been careful not to give away any clues about himself so far.
Karen has been sighted in the corner room wearing a floor length dress. She is described as being slender with long straight gray hair beyond her shoulders.
Another guest saw Karen on the second floor landing, and watched her go up the stairs slowly without saying a word.
Could Karen playfully have been whispering, “Catch me? Catch me if you can?”
Luick tells me that in every case, guests have not been prompted ahead of time that they were sharing their overnights with ghosts. Guests would tell him what they experienced after the fact. Lucik remarks that no one has appeared upset either with what they witnessed, and rushed to leave the bed and breakfast in the middle of the night for other accommodations.
“Paranormal State” TV show has featured The Allegiance.
Practiced ghost hunters have come and set up their equipment in the Federalist-style home. They investigated the 46 rooms on three floors. Paranormals were able to get the ghosts to answer the question, “What is your name?” A good start, wouldn’t you say?
The Allegiance Bed and Breakfast, built in 1838 by Rueben Wisner, is aptly named for it is on the very same main street where Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance resided.
During that same time period the Chandler home (now the Sweet Briar Spa and Resort) and the Wadsworth mansions were built in Geneseo; and the William Pryor Letchworth mansion (the Glen Iris Inn) was constructed in Letchworth State Park.
Guests can’t help but experience old-fashioned hospitality on a tree-lined street in small town Americana. From the Allegiance it is a short walk to unique antique shops, a variety of restaurants and even step back in time into a store known for its candy display. The downtown brick buildings have been recently renovated restoring an optimistic pride in local residents.
I was so energized leaving the Allegiance that I made a slight detour on my way home. I guess I hadn’t had my fill of mysterious places. Besides, the slogan of the County Tourism Board — “Have a Field Day in Livingston County” — reminded me to make time for local experiences.
Nearby is the Boyd and Parker Monument in the Town of Leicester. Originally it was the former site of Little Beard’s Town, the largest Seneca village in Western New York.
Local folklore comprise of tales involving Boyd and Parker’s deaths at an ancient oak tree, known as “The Torture Tree.” The landmark tree acquired its nickname early in the 19th century as the tree that Boyd and Parker were tied to and burned at the stake. In 1779 however, the tree would have been in its youth.
I listened to the stirring wind whistling through the valley. I wonder what other eerie tales have been told about “The Torture Tree?”
As far as the apparition population count goes in Livingston County, no one knows for sure if its numbers are on the rise, or census takers have given up the ghost on keeping records. Places have been documented in books. Perhaps, you know of sites that are not written down.
Is there a ghost of a chance that you will visit a haunted house this fall? New York State has a Haunted House audio narration about Livingston County and other counties compiled by region. http://www.hauntedhistorytrail.com
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