In the summer of 2007, my family discovered we had a ghost inside our house; we had experienced subtle clues of her presence for three years. My teenage daughter Sarah felt someone watched her crossing the upstairs landing whenever she went to bed. Several of Sarah's friends announced that they sensed a presence inside the house as soon as they entered it. Our dog Rosie exhibited strange behavior (sometimes she would be asleep in the family room and suddenly waken and tear out of the room for no apparent reason, or at night wake Sarah with her growling at what seemed like nothing in particular).
Despite these strange occurrences, it never dawned on me to launch an investigation—until we went on the ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel, that is. While on the tour, several adult members of my family (myself included) experienced physical symptoms—headaches, shortness of breath, and nausea—when we stepped on the fourth floor. The symptoms disappeared as soon as we left the floor. After this haunted experience, I decided to take a few photographs around our home that evening; truthfully, I did not expect to discover anything. I was wrong.
Over the next four months, our relationship with the ghost developed. I captured the image of the ghost inside our house in photographs and on video. I started to communicate telepathically with the spirit and was able to ask her to do things for us (for example, when I asked the ghost to let us see her in "human form," she immediately started to absorb energy in order to manifest). One night, I asked her to communicate with us by knocking. A few nights later, as I lay alone upstairs trying to fall asleep, I heard a knock-knock on the headboard near my head. I then felt someone climb onto the bed on my wife's side, and slowly make their way toward me. The spirit then laid down on me for several seconds. (This event was captured on video.)
When we learned we had a ghost living with us, and as our contact increased, I wanted to know more about her. Examining a photograph I took of the ghost, I determined that she was from the 1880s. I contacted the staff at the Fort Collins Museum, and with their assistance, was able to identify our ghost as Mary Bell Wilson, who died from typhoid fever on November 28, 1886 at the age of twenty-one.
A breakthrough came when Duane and Susan Kniebes visited our home. The Kniebes were trained to use dowsing rods to locate gravesites, and had been working on behalf of the State of Colorado locating pioneer graves in Larimer County. At the time of their visit, they had located over one hundred and fifty gravesites, including graves near our house. When the Kniebes checked our backyard, the rods reacted to a spot in the southeast corner of the yard. Duane used his rods over the location to determine it was the gravesite of a woman who had died over one hundred years ago. Before leaving, Duane gave us two sets of dowsing rods, and instructed us how to use them. The next day, using the rods as Duane had shown me, I was able to establish the presence of a spirit when the rods crossed. I then asked yes and no questions telepathically, with the spirit moving the rods to cross or uncross them in response. I learned that Mary Bell Wilson was indeed the ghost living with us. Furthermore, she knew all of our names, and watched us in real time as we went about our lives.
When we first discovered we had a ghost with us, everyone was scared; no one wanted to be downstairs by themselves at night, and for good reason. Once we learned the identity of our ghost, however, our attitude changed. We came to think of Mary Bell as a member of our family. Of course, now that she had our attention, she planned to keep it. On two consecutive nights in December, Mary Bell tossed framed pictures off the wall. She also made a windup music box, sitting on top of a bookshelf, start to play music one afternoon.
In 2010, we moved into a new home. It saddened me to think that we were leaving Mary Bell behind after all we had been through. I should have known that Mary Bell had no intention of being left behind. As soon as we moved into the new house, my daughters told me that on several occasions while they were upstairs playing, someone knocked on their doors. They went to investigate and no one was there. One afternoon Sarah was alone in the house when she saw the doorknob to her room start to turn. Another morning, I watched a door open unassisted. I took out the rods and tried to make a connection with Mary Bell. I wasn't surprised when she answered and confirmed that she had followed us to the new house.
Within the last year, Sarah has seen orbs flying around the house during the daytime on at least four occasions. This past December, as I walked into my office, I heard something crash. I found two TV remote controllers, and a notebook on the floor. Somehow, they had fallen from the center of my desk.
I decided to try filming again to see if anything would appear. With my video camera set on night shot, I filmed inside the downstairs hallway. Two orbs appeared within a few minutes. Three nights later, we had fourteen orbs within twenty minutes. I also discovered that contacting Mary Bell via the dowsing rods was easy in the new house. I can only guess that she has formed an emotional attachment with my family, and because of this, felt compelled to follow us.
People often ask what it's like living with a ghost. For me, it has been a journey of discovery that has opened my mind to many possibilities, as detailed in my book, Ghost under Foot: the Spirit of Mary Bell. In a way, Mary Bell has become a part of our family, and will probably remain so for the rest of our lives.
Kenneth W. Harmon (Fort Collins, CO) was a finalist for the 2009 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Zola Award. His short fiction and other writings have appeared in several magazines. ...