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On the hunt

  • The 1844 Little White Church in Palmerton with its burying ground was the site of a paranormal investigation.
    The 1844 Little White Church in Palmerton with its burying ground was the site of a paranormal investigation.
Published October 29. 2010 05:00PM

Cindy Gasper, co-owner of Brony's Hotel, introduced Bob Schaeffer of the Blue Mountain Paranormal Society at a Sunday meeting of the Palmerton Area Historical Society.

The church where they gathered is known as the Little White Church on Third Street, Palmerton. It is owned by the historical society.

The Little White Church is the oldest church within the boundaries of Palmerton. It dates to 1844 when it was organized as an Evangelical congregation.

There are seven known veterans in the cemetery: Simon Snyder, 1861; George Schoenberger, 1865; John Sterling, 1865; William H. Knight, 1862; Charles Knappenberger, unknown; Christian Miller, 1863; and Daniel Frankenfield, unknown.

Schaeffer said ghost hunters are a serious group. It is an expensive hobby with some pieces of equipment costing as much as $1,200.

"A lot of it is science based - scientifically oriented. We try to help out," said Schaeffer.

He said tickets are normally sold to the investigations such as the study at the Mauch Chunk Opera House and Marion Hose Company. On Oct. 15 the paranormal society did an ongoing investigation at Brony's Hotel, in Mahoning Township. The profit from one will benefit the Palmerton Historical Society.

Cindy Gasper and her brother bought the hotel and are restoring it.

"We try to have one big event each year. This year it was at Fort Mifflin of Civil and Revolutionary war fame. It was nice being locked in overnight," said Schaeffer. He said historical sites are having more investigations done using them as fundraisers as government funding drops.

Although the Blue Mountain Paranormal Society has been in existence for only two years, some members have been doing investigations for 20 years.

What they look for are changes in temperature or of the electro-magnetic field, but, with all the technology, people's reports are often the most helpful thing.

Electro-magnetic fields can be produced by unshielded cables or power lines outside the realm of the paranormal. It can make you feel sick, said Schaeffer.

A phone call was received from a man in Brooklyn who saw Jesus on his carpet. A pre-investigator went to see the man and found he was on heavy medication and probably did see Jesus, but the Society would not. No one went down to investigate.

An investigation usually takes 4-6 hours and the Society investigates a site twice.

Places show no activity 99.9 percent of the time but the other .1 percent is what keeps them going. The material is studied after an investigation is complete. That is when they listen for audio or look for photographic evidence. Evidence is used only if the location of each investigator is known from the pre-investigation through the conclusion.

Psychics or mediums are sometimes used. Schaeffer said they have a woman, Michele, who is dependable and can perform a closing ceremony if people ask for one.

The first electro-magnetic field detector Schaeffer showed the audience tested AC current. On one using gauge settings if the reading goes from 1.1 to 1.2 an investigator will start to ask questions and take pictures. Something is trying to manifest itself.

Schaeffer had his first EMF investigation in a Palmerton home. He placed the meter on a piano and it went off.

"We could see a shadow figure," he said.

A more sensitive meter has a series of lights normally set on green but when it moves up toward darker colors it is expected there may be something.

An extremely simple piece of equipment is a compass. If it changes direction without a known reason there is a change in the field.

They make digital voice recordings. The voices are disembodied.

Animals are very sensitive - if they stare at the wall there may be something, said Schaeffer.

People cannot see infrared or ultraviolet light, but the Society's cameras can take pictures with those lights.

At an Easton house they heard the name "Stella," and asked if it had any meaning to the resident. She took them to a piano and pulled a picture out of the fourth row of photographs and said, "This is Stella."

Half the group moved out to the cemetery carrying equipment. Jess Strohl, an investigator, said they would have to move around and watch for a fluctuation. Recorders were placed on some of the gravestones, but there were no results and the group returned to the church.

Schaeffer said a Bowmanstown woman wanted to know if her husband Tom, deceased, was still around the house. Tom said, "Hi Deb" in a voice everyone could understand. He played other audio evidence, but it was hard to understand without his translation.

He showed pictures of a group of people with two additional people barely seen in the background and another one where the common opinion of a ghost - a white, misty shape, was in the upper left-hand corner.

In Palmerton, a recorder was placed on a barber chair, and someone said, "I'll talk to you."

From a Lansford house there is a picture with some legs that can be seen in an adjacent hallway.

Balls of light can be seen at Brony's Hotel. It could be dust or moisture, but the picture is moving and laughing at us, Schaeffer said. Another group came down from the Poconos to the hotel and got the same results.

"We help save some history. Corporations are too quick to tear buildings down," he said.

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