It’s Ghost Hunting Season in Oswego County

By: Joleene DesRosiers Moody, Contributing Writer
The Oswego Harbor Lighthouse, the Selkirk Lighthouse, the Battle Island Bed and Breakfast, Seneca Hill, Happy Valley, Fort Ontario…

The list of haunted habitats in Oswego County goes on and on.  For paranormal investigator and founder of CNY Ghost Hunters, Stacey Jones, these locations hold more than just ghost stories: They hold mysteries yet to be unlocked.

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Lt. Basil Dunbar (portrayed here by Mitchell Manniccia) is rumored to roam the ramparts of Fort Ontario after being killed in a 1759 duel.

“I love the research of it all,” she said. “No matter how many pieces of evidence we get, it’s kind of like a puzzle. Every time we go in somewhere to investigate we learn something new. Lots of times, the ghosts that linger in these locations ask us for help. How can we help them? We hope by continuing to investigate, we can eventually get more clues so we can help them.”

Fort Ontario is one of Jones’ favorite spots. Recently profiled on “Ghost Hunters” on the SyFy channel, Fort Ontario is considered a hot spot of ghostly activity.

From the feet of marching soldiers to the tiny voices of children, sounds and footsteps and other activity can be heard throughout the historic buildings. Jones uses an EVP recorder to pick up these sounds.

“Most of the activity we get is EVP, electronic voice phenomenon,” Jones said. “This is a technique where we use voice recorders and ask questions and a disembodied (lacking a body or freed from the body) voice will answer us back. We simply ask the spirits to speak into the microphone so we can pick up their frequency.”

“During one of our investigations at Fort Ontario, one of the researchers showed up in a civil war outfit. You can hear little footsteps run up to her and a little boy say, “Hey lady! Neat clothes!” We’ve gotten him on tape several times, especially when we first started investigating. He has a bit of an Irish accent. I guess that he’s between 8 and 10 years old.”

Jones believes it’s the same voice that “Ghost Hunters” picked up and aired in the October 3 episode.

She also has recordings of a woman that claims to sleep in the officers’ quarters.

“One of my investigators was in the barracks and asked, “Who sleeps on the top bunk?” It was a female that replied. She said, “Me and the officers.” This can’t be true, because the enlisted stayed in the barracks, so she wouldn’t be there with officers. But who knows. She had a bit of a southern drawl.”

Jones and her team have investigated dozens of old haunts throughout New York State.

One of the scariest moments she recollects is during an investigation at an old hotel somewhere in the Catskills. Most EVP recordings are quick and don’t last very long, but she talks about one that went on for nearly 20 minutes, making the hair on the back of her neck stand up.

“The scariest moment that comes immediately to mind is an EVP of what I believe is a woman being raped and murdered. EVP is usually very short in duration, often just seconds. This particular recording came in at a frequency that the human voice cannot duplicate. The first half goes on for about 11 minutes, and it’s the woman. The rest is the man. He is actually talking to the investigators saying, ‘Help me! Please help me! What have I done? Please help!’ It is very compelling,” she said.

Jones’ investigations include more than actual ghost sightings and recordings. Plenty of research is involved when trying to debunk a ghost story or myth.

The Landmark Theatre in Syracuse holds one of those myths about a frustrated actress named Clarissa. Dozens have claimed to have sightings and have even heard Clarissa’s voice. But no one is really sure just how the actress met her demise.

Jones believes she fell off of a balcony after she saw her lover get electrocuted.

“Lots of people believe she jumped to her death. But after searching records and talking to people still alive that worked in the theatre in the 1940s and 50s, it was clear to me that unintentionally fell,” she said. “She saw her lover working backstage. He was electrocuted and when she saw this, she moved quickly to try and get to him. Unfortunately, she moved too quick and accidentally fell to her death.”

Clarissa’s lover also haunts the theatre, as well as other disembodied voices that have been identified as Oscar, a stagehand, and Charlie, a janitor.

Many Oswego residents are familiar with the ghost stories that are passed on throughout the years.

Here are just a few more to prepare you for your ghost hunt:

Oswego Harbor Lighthouse:  The story goes that men lost at sea in the early 1940s haunt this beautiful icon. Lights can be seen flickering on and off at night, allegedly at the hands of the lost seamen.

Selkirk Lighthouse: Are we just hearing things? Visitors claim to hear footsteps that travel to the very top of the lighthouse. Legend has it they are the footsteps of a young woman that tumbled down the stairs to her death while awaiting the arrival of her father’s ship.

Battle Island Inn Bed & Breakfast: Stay if you dare! Ghostly tenants are said to be very active is this beautiful home. No need for an alarm clock here: it is said plenty of invisible ones go off by themselves.

Seneca Hill Ghost: A ghost hunt this writer embarked on many years ago! It is said that a ghostly woman in a white night gown can be seen running with a child down Route 57 in Minetto. Just why she is running is unclear, but the 1800s legend has it that she hid herself and her child away to prepare for the end of the world. So why is she running? That part of the story is still a mystery….

Happy Valley in Parish: This old farmland turned wildlife refuge is allegedly the home of long ago residents that suffered an epidemic that killed them all. Orbs of light and eerie sounds are part of the legend of an unsettled group of farmers that still haunt the land.