There is a haunted house on the River. And we can tell you from personal experience: ghosts are real. Very real.
What follows is a true story. You are free to believe it or not, but it did actually happen.
My sister and I are lifelong River Rats. We’ve lived through hurricanes, high water, low water, any number of Nature’s variables that affect life here. There’s never been anything that really shook us to the core.
Until we encountered . . . the ghost.
For a recent summer, we rented a two-story home, which had been built in the early 20th century, on an island close to Clayton. When we arrived that first day we took a brief look around, and then made a trip back to Clayton for supplies.
Little did we know what that house really contained. And now we have actually seen the chilling photographic proof.
Upon returning from town, my sister and I were standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second floor. Suddenly, the unmistakable sound of heavy footsteps pounding across the second floor startled us. It was what you would hear if someone stomped deliberately and loudly across the ceiling above you.
I will never forget the look on my sister’s face, nor the alarm in her voice, when she said, “There’s someone in the house!” I was equally surprised and alarmed.
Someone upstairs? The landlords weren’t there. The house on one side was vacant, and the house on the other side had a young family. There was no one that would have been in that house.
I went upstairs to check. Nobody.
We both were confused, and rattled, by this inexplicable event. But there was unpacking to do, and that evening we went to bed in our respective bedrooms on the second floor. The bedrooms in the house centered around a small landing at the top of the stairs, which featured a narrow closet covered by a floor-to-ceiling curtain.
I awoke suddenly at 2:30 in the morning. It was a pitch black, calm River night—no wind, no moon to speak of, no source of illumination. I couldn’t see a thing.
But I could definitely hear something.
Something was moving an object across the floor of my room, making a scratching sound. It had awakened me out of a sound sleep—it was that loud. I listened, groggily trying to discern what it could be. Finally, I reached over and switched on the nightstand light.
The sound stopped instantly. There was no one in the room.
Short of any other explanation, my sleep-deprived mind concluded that it must have been the little cat that we had brought along, and I fell back asleep.
The next morning, I checked around the room to discover what had stirred me out of slumber; something that the cat might have brought in and dragged across the floor towards my bed. I looked everywhere . . . and there was nothing.
When I came into the kitchen my sister said, “I heard this strange noise in my room in the middle of the night. I couldn’t tell what it was—but it sounded like something was being moved across the floor.”
Puzzled, we compared our experiences. Very strange—but we decided that it was an old house and we were unfamiliar with it.
The second night: at 3 o’clock in the morning I shot upright in bed, startled awake when a door downstairs was suddenly slammed.
When I say slammed, I mean slammed as if you were extremely angry and you took hold of an open door and threw it closed with all the strength you could summon. It was so loud that only a major windstorm could have mustered the kind of force with which that door was slammed. This time, there was no mistaking the sound—something had slammed a door shut, very violently, immediately below me.
But there was no storm. There was no wind. The next morning, all of the doors in the house were in the same position as they had been all along.
My sister had slept through it. But she had her own eerie experience to tell me.
“Have you noticed the curtain on the closet on the landing,” she asked? No, I really hadn’t.
“It’s constantly moving—rippling from the top to the bottom. I watched it for a while, and it never stopped. It kind of freaked me out.”
We went over the possible reasons: an open window through which a breeze could pass? No, because there were no windows near the landing. Plus, it was another calm day. An air current from downstairs? No, because we went upstairs and felt for even the slightest breath of air moving. There was nothing.
But the full length of the heavy curtain in front of us was rippling in a never-changing rhythm.
At that point, I’d had enough. I stepped forward and yanked the curtain open. If something was in there, I was damn sure going to find out what it was.
In the dark recess within, only a broom and a couple of old paint cans on a shelf.
That night, I slept through with no paranormal activities interrupting. But not my sister.
The next morning, she recounted to me what she had experienced during the night. “There was a very loud, persistent noise right outside my window. It sounded like a saw scraping back and forth on metal. It went on for a long time. Finally, I got up to see what it was—and there was nothing there.”
It had been another calm night. There were no trees near the house. There were no signs of any animals that might have gone up there. Nothing could explain this mysterious, and clearly intentional, disturbance in the middle of the night.
The next night, at 2:30 AM, I was sleeping lightly when a door suddenly slammed downstairs, once more with a sheer violence that was shocking. It sounded like the door to the kitchen. That door was always open. So when I went downstairs the next morning, I expected to see it closed.
It was still wide open.
And then there were the windows.
Both of our bedrooms had heavy wooden casement windows. Because they were old and warped you had to push both halves very firmly to close them.
The twin halves of the window closest to my sister’s bed were kept open and folded back flat against the wall. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, she was awakened by a very loud “BANG!”. The window had slammed shut with great force. There was no wind that could have caused that window to slam shut that way.
By now, we were freaked out by all of this, and a little angry as well. Our summer vacation was being interrupted, and deliberately so. Seemingly maliciously so.
The final event of the week left me shaken. Early on our final morning, as dawn began to lighten my room, I became aware that something was not normal.
As I opened my eyes to try to understand what was different about this morning, I realized there was a shadow across my face. The right half of the window that was closest to my bed, right near my pillow, had been fully closed sometime, somehow during the night.
There had been no wind, nothing that could have caused that window to close fully all by itself. Something had been just inches from me as I slept—and for whatever reason, wanted that window shut.
We left the property to go home, troubled by what we had experienced.
Once home, my sister and I investigated. I searched for evidence that these events weren’t something that only we had encountered. Sure enough, slamming doors were widely reported as paranormal events.
My sister’s research discovered that the house had been bought by a middle-aged couple many years before. The wife was a lifelong year-round resident with a well-known last name and family history strongly tied to the area. She had subsequently died, but there was no information about the circumstances of her death. Her husband had remarried, and during summers continued to live in the house with his new wife.
Months passed, and finally we were confronted with whether to return to this unquestionably haunted house—or not? We finally decided to go back. But we also decided to set the ghost straight.
When we arrived at the house for our second summer, we stood at the bottom of the stairs again. And – silly as it may sound – we announced ourselves.
“Whoever you are, we’re lifelong summer people. We’ve always lived around here. So have our parents, and our grandparents. We’re happy to be back on the River, and we just want to enjoy our time here. So let’s share the house—OK?”
We unpacked, and around 10:30 PM called it a night.
11:30 PM. The smoke alarm on the ceiling of the landing, right outside both our bedrooms, suddenly went off with an ear-piercing shriek. Exhausted from the travel day, and now startled awake by this fiercely blaring alarm, we scrambled bleary-eyed into the landing.
Then this disembodied female voice suddenly shrieked even louder: “Fire! Fire! Evacuate! Evacuate! Evacuate NOW!!”
There was no smoke. There was no fire. There was no breeze that could have blown something into the alarm. After an agonizing moment more, the cacophony stopped as suddenly as it had started.
The ghost had given us a ‘warm’ welcome—more of a warning, it really seemed.
We have not returned to that house—and never will.
The final piece to this story is the photograph.
The house went up for sale shortly after our time there. The listing featured photographs of the interior, including the living room, with its two large windows overlooking the River. There are no curtains and no furniture anywhere near those windows. There were no residents at the time of the listing.
One photograph of the property is shot from the water, at a distance looking back at the house and at those windows.
When you look long enough at that photo, you notice something odd in one of the windows. If you magnify the photo, and look much more closely, there is a ghostly but unmistakable image of a woman standing there, looking out. She is leaning slightly forward, wearing a long white dress or gown in the fashion popular during the early 20th century. Her light gray hair is swept back, again in the style common for those years. Her arm is crossed over her torso, and although she is only partially visible, you can make out basic details of her face.
She is staring back at you . . . watching . . .
Editor's Note: The authors are known to me, but for personal reasons on their part have requested anonymity, which I have granted. They wrote, "We hope this article draws ample interest from TILife readers. And we're hoping very much that we never have more material for a sequel to this story - one haunting in a lifetime is more than enough for us!!"
Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 10, October 2021, People, Places
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