Post by Brad-LaSpirits on Aug 16, 2007 0:24:31 GMT -5
Great job to Elissa for lining up the historic Shadows on the Teche plantation on New Iberia. We will keep you all informed as the investigation is conducted. Again, thanks to Elissa and her gals in the Southwestern chapter for adding some much needed progress to a busy area.
Post by Jennifer-LaSpirits on Oct 16, 2007 21:20:15 GMT -5
I am really excited about this one. It will be nice to not have to travel far for this one. Although, the trips always are alot of fun! This is one of the reasons that I love this hobbie so much, just to be in such a historic location and get chance to see it in such a unique manner. How many people actually get that chance.
Post by Jennifer-LaSpirits on Dec 13, 2007 17:30:31 GMT -5
I want to thank Ms. Pat Kahle for allowing us to go into The Shadows to investigate. It is such a beautiful house with a rich history. I would also like to thank Ben Leger from The Times of Acadiana for coming and writing such an awesome article on it, and to the investigators that attended for working so hard and being so dedicated. We all had a wonderful time and several had personal experiences. The attic was my personal favorite.
The results from the investigation should be up soon.
Post by Brad-LaSpirits on Dec 13, 2007 22:02:00 GMT -5
Indeed! Ben did a great job on the article. For those who would like to read it, here it is:
On a typical late night, Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia doesn't see much action. But around 9 p.m. on a Saturday in mid-November, about 12 people are taking a quick tour.
With cameras in hand, they snap shots of the gardens and dimly lit rooms -- hoping to catch something out of the ordinary. The air is cool and wet, and the grounds are awfully quiet.
On the second floor terrace, group leader Jennifer Broussard of Lafayette leads the way up a rickety and narrow flight of stairs to the third-floor attic.
The open stairwell is lit by one bright light bulb, surrounded by a chaotic swarm of mosquitoes and other night bugs drawn to its glow. Broussard stops, somewhat apprehensive.
"I don't do bugs," she says to the group behind her. "I do ghosts, but I don't do bugs."
This Saturday night, then, is for ghost hunting.
The group is Louisiana Spirits, a team of professional and analytical investigators who've been visiting the most haunted -- or supposedly haunted -- locations in and around the state for years.
They've got chapters in each corner of Louisiana and volunteer their time on the weekends to investigate hauntings at no cost to homeowners, with some of the most high-tech equipment available. Director Brad Duplechien points out the team seeks more to disprove hauntings than to prove that ghosts exist at a location. In fact, he's only declared two sights haunted so far that the team's visited: Oak Alley Plantation and a private residence in DeRidder.
Broussard warns, too, that the team doesn't include psychics, seances or any occult practices. Investigations are strictly scientific, using video, audio recordings and other techniques.
In June, The Times wrote about Louisiana Spirits' visit to the historic Bienvenue House in St. Martinville, at the request of the new owners Jill Kuhn and Skip Littlefield. Since then, the team has kept busy and, according to Broussard, is nearly booked up with investigations until May of next year.
Louisiana Spirits seems to be spending much more time in the Acadiana area lately.
Shadows-on-the-Teche was an investigation the team sought out on their own. Upcoming investigations include the Grand Opera House of the South in Crowley and a revisit to the Joseph Jefferson Mansion in New Iberia.
"New Orleans is our most active chapter," Broussard says. "(For a while) the Southwest Chapter had been somewhat of a dead spot. But now, it's starting to be right in line with New Orleans."
Pat Kahle, director for Shadows-on-the-Teche, was on hand for the investigation that perfectly gloomy Saturday night.
She says she's heard of visitors and even a few tour guides who've claimed feeling or seeing something spooky at the antebellum home but admits she's never had her own experiences and is somewhat skeptical.
Still, Kahle says the history behind the home makes it a target for ghost stories.
"There's certainly a lot of candidates for ghosts in the family," she laughs.
Shadows was built in the 1830s and was home to generations of the Weeks family. Sitting along Bayou Teche in downtown New Iberia, it served as a backdrop to the Civil War.
One of the home's most famous residents, Mary Weeks Moore, refused to leave the home in 1863 when Federal troops chose to occupy the grounds and bottom floor. In poor health, she stayed in the second and third floor of the home and died in her sleep only a month after the troops' arrival.
Her second-floor bedroom was one of the key spots monitored during the night of Louisiana Spirits' investigation. Earlier in the evening, Broussard and other members set up about seven cameras in what they felt would be prime spots for ghost activity -- Mary's bedroom, the children's bedroom adorned with antique dolls and mosquito-netting and the library and office in the attic, among others.
The third-floor attic, off limits to tour groups, is where Kahle and other Shadows officials have kept a vast and well-organized collection of the Weeks family's estate. The family papers include more than 17,000 invoices, letters and other items that document the family's fascinating history. One of the attic's storage rooms consists of rows of shelves packed with antiques and boxes of clothes labeled meticulously with things like "Women's Corsets" or "Men's Vests." Another room is dedicated to antique furniture, covered to eerie effect in white cloth for preservation.
As Louisiana Spirits' members scoured the attic, browsing the shelves and taking EMF (electromagnetic field) and temperature readings, Broussard -- team leader for this investigation -- determined where cameras should be set up.
"We should set something up here because, with all this old stuff, you know there's got to be something attached to it," she tells her team.
The group set up a makeshift headquarters in an empty room on the ground floor of the home.
Sometime after 10 p.m., Kahle and two Shadows tour guides who came for the investigation closed the shutters and turned out the lights. Louisiana Spirits divided into four groups of two or three and took 30-minute shifts throughout the house. One group took a shift at the headquarters, where two TV screens projected live video from each camera.
Until about 2 a.m., groups rotated out, going from room to room and floor to floor. Part of the process involves trying to pick up EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena -- sounds too high pitched for the human ear to hear. The teams used audio recorders to pick up those sounds, often asking questions into the silent and dark rooms like "Is anyone here?" or "Can you make some sort of movement to let us know of your presence?"
Andi Jenson, a Louisiana Spirits member from Ponchatoula, says their questions can sometimes seem ridiculous -- even to the person asking -- but often produce good results, and sometimes responses, in EVPs.
Most of those sounds aren't uncovered until later, as the team reviews hours of footage and audio recordings.
The actual investigation can seem uneventful, with long stretches of time spent sitting silently in dark rooms, waiting for activity.
"One thing about these investigations is you have a lot of time to think," Jenson jokes.
While most of the Shadows investigation that night appeared uneventful, Broussard's three-person group experienced something in the attic they couldn't explain. Around 12:30 a.m. they heard footsteps coming down the attic hallway and then a cough, but no one was there when they looked.
On the audio clip, the footsteps are clear as one group member asks "Mr. Weeks?" The footsteps continue, then what appears to be the cough. Broussard is heard in the distance as she walks out into the hall saying, "Who's in here?"
Another clip has a group member asking a question, followed by an unexplained whisper that sounds like, "Too much pain."
After going over the findings, Broussard says she won't classify the Shadows as haunted, though there is a possibility of activity. She says the findings, especially the EVPs, show there's often more going on than one would think at the time.
"A lot of times it's almost like watching paint dry," Broussard says. "You might think it's the most uneventful night, but once you go back and review the evidence, then you get excited. You think, 'Wow, maybe there was something there that we didn't see before.'"
Though Louisiana Spirits' members take time out of their regular lives to travel across the state for weekend and late-night investigations, Broussard says it's all worth it when they find a good piece of evidence.
Another perk is having Louisiana landmarks to themselves for a night.
"With the plantations and historic homes, we get to experience them like no other person can," she says.
The team's schedule is booked for the next several months with investigations, conventions, speaking engagements with area clubs and even a Continuing Education course at UL in the spring all about ghost hunting. Still, Broussard says the group plans to remain a volunteer organization, charging no fees to customers.
With the seminars and other speaking engagements, such as one recently for the local Kiwanis Club, Broussard has seen how people are beginning to understand what they do.
"It's really great to know there are people out there who see us as more of a knowledgeable source and a legitimate source," she says. "A normal thing for us is when you tell someone you're part of an investigation group. They think you're devil worshippers or something.
"We're getting this window of opportunity to do what we love to do," she adds. "The people that contact us, they truly want help -- even if help is where we come in and disprove everything they tell us about. We're helping them feel better about where they live."