Everyone loves a good story. I’m not sure if I enjoy listening or telling one more, but I like to think of life experiences as a way of gathering them. You have to put yourself in interesting situations and surround yourself with fascinating people to curate a well rounded collection. “Why would you want to spend the night in a haunted house?”, you may ask. My answer is simple. To collect stories.
Storytelling runs in my family. From the stranger than fiction to the fantastically embellished, my dad’s side of the family is full of natural storytellers like my uncle Rich Ballard. Rich bought the Whispers Estate in March of this year, and he delivered more stories than I can recount here as he gave us a tour of the estate.
I first came to the Whispers Estate in Mitchell, Indiana in 2017. Rich is a paranormal investigator in his off time, and he invited me and some of my family members along to check it out. I’ve never been on an investigation before, so it served as a sort of primer to the house. That first visit, there were things we couldn’t quite explain, from flashlights blinking on and off in time to questions to the sound of a doll laughing with no one around it. The house itself has a rich history of over 16 deaths taking place in the home or on the property, and people from all over the world come to stay a night in a home that is known as one of the most haunted places in the US.
So when it went up for sale, Rich jumped at the chance to buy it, and my friends and I jumped at the chance to explore it. For $200, you get the house to yourself from 8PM-4AM, and Rich gives you a tour and access to some of his paranormal investigation tools. The house is fully furnished with plenty of places to sit, and the previous owners completely restored the place to try to look like it might have back in the early twentieth century. Chandeliers, antique couches, central AC on all four levels, and a fully stocked drink selection make this experience as comfortable as it can be.
I won’t go into all the details on the house’s history, but the basic background is that Dr. John Gibbons purchased the house in the late 1890s and operated his medical practice out of one side and lived in the rest of it until he died in 1944. He performed surgeries there as well, and throughout the time he owned the home his daughter and wife passed away there (not to mention all the patients that died under his care because it was the early 1900s and medicine just wasn’t what it is today). After he died, the home underwent transitions and eventually became a boarding house. Several deaths later, it sat abandoned for over twenty years until it’s renovation and opening for investigations.
Enter the six of us–me, my husband Jordan, my childhood friend Nic and her significant other D, and our close friends John and Jasmyn. Out of the six of us, three firmly believe in ghosts, one is on the fence but leaning towards believing, one is slightly skeptical, and one is extremely skeptical. This is important. It keeps those of us that believe grounded in reality and keeps us from running completely wild with our imaginations.
After an extensive tour from Rich, he left us to our own devices for the night. He helpfully provided tips and tricks, pointed out places that were extremely active, and showed us how to use some of the tools he left behind (an EMF reader being one of the most important). The house was ours for the night.
We kicked it off by eating some snacks in the dining room where we set up a “safe space” and home base. As we ate, we talked about what we believed, experiences we had in the past, and generally set the tone for the evening as one of exploration. We lit candles and let the house know we were there to learn with pure intentions and invited whatever was in the house to communicate with us.
They key to paranormal investigations is to provide avenues through which spirits can communicate. We had three primary ways, plus whatever the house decided to do. One was maglite flashlights with the twisting tops. You can easily set the light to “off” and place it on a surface, then ask if whatever is there would turn on the light. This is where I have had success in past visits to Whispers. Every time I’d been there, the flashlights would turn on and off in time with questions. Maybe it is possible for a flashlight to turn on and off by itself, but in response to questions? That’s a little harder to explain.
The second avenue we wanted to try was the Ouiji board. I’m not well versed in this method, but one person in our group had done it before.
The third method was the Ghost Box, which is a portable radio that continuously scans AM or FM radio stations. As it scans, you listen for words that pop out at you. The idea is that the spirits will use the radio frequency to highlight words and speak to you. The method we used is known as the Estes Method. For this, someone plugs noise cancelling headphones into the Ghost Box and puts on a blindfold. The rest of the group asks the spirits questions, and the person hooked up to the Ghost Box listens for any words and says them as soon as they hear them. A really good example of this working can be found here, in a video from the documentary series Hellier (which I HIGHLY recommend if you’re interested in this kind of stuff).
We tried the flashlight method and the Ghost box in the attic, where I had success on previous trips. but nothing happened. We then ventured to the basement where there is almost always considerable activity, and it’s also where the energy feels the most malicious (at least to me).
The basement is where Doctor Gibbons would store the dead. It is also where two brothers died. The last time I was there, the flashlights were turning on and off in time with our questions and the EMF (electromagnetic field) reader went crazy. This time, we placed a flashlight on one end of the table and an EMF reader on the other end. We began asking questions, and my husband said, “Were you whispering?” to one of our friends. We did a good job of letting each other know when one of us moved or made a noise so we didn’t confuse it with the sounds of the house, but none of us said anything. Then, I asked, “If you were whispering, will you turn on the light?” As soon as the question was out, the flashlight flashed on and off quickly while the EMF reader spiked simultaneously.
We left the room after that, and then we decided to try the servants’ quarters around midnight. A few of us tried ouiji, but nothing happened. Then, I put on the headphones and tried to listen to the Ghost Box while the others asked questions. If you listen below, you’ll hear the conversation:
Remember that I’m wearing noise cancelling headphones. I can’t hear what anyone is saying or doing the entire time. I have my eyes closed and my head down so I can’t even see anyone’s lips move, and even if I could, it was dark. All I did was call out the words I heard on the radio. If I couldn’t distinguish what the word was, I didn’t say it. I wasn’t trying to mess with anyone. I took it seriously.
This whole conversation was unnerving for a few reasons. Right before I said, “Can’t go there,” everyone heard a noise at the end of the hall. I didn’t hear it, but they described it as footsteps or the jiggling of a door handle. All the doors were closed and everyone was in the servants quarters around the stairway. They took the “Can’t go there” to mean that they shouldn’t go down the hall. And Jasmyn even interpreted it as the spirits talking to each other because after I said, “You’re here,” the sound stopped, almost like whoever was walking had stopped when it reached us.
As soon as I said, “Go,” which I heard the clearest of all the words, they pulled me out of the session and everyone, even the most skeptical of us, was eager to leave the area. We sat in the dining room and processed the event, and the whole time we heard footsteps upstairs as the EMF reader spiked from its spot in the center of the table. Several of us were so shaken we wanted to leave the house, but we endured for a while longer.
We tried a few other rooms, took photos, and talked again about the Ghost Box session. It was the most that happened that night, so we wanted to try it one more time. This time, we took the Ghost Box to the doctor’s exam room.
For the third try, we gave it to John, one of the most skeptical of all of us. He plugged in, put the headphones on, and we began the session. Listen below for the results:
Overall, we left Whispers at 2 AM both satisfied and wanting more. We would’ve stayed longer, but we were exhausted from a night of being on edge. We can’t wait to go back and further explore the place after Rich installs the state’s only Oculus room. And as far as believing in the paranormal goes, you can’t deny that weird things happen there and the place definitely carries a creepy vibe.
If you’re curious, I highly recommend you stay a night and explore. It’s not too expensive if you get a group together to help split the cost, and the tour and hospitality of the place is unmatched. Netflix visited the house in April and plans to return in September to film for an upcoming series on haunted places in the US, so you might want to get your visit in before that hits. Click here to book your night or to read more about the history of the house.
The Whispers Estate is the perfect place to collect a new story, and overall I left with what I came for: an experience outside the realm of explanation.
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