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We don't bust ghost, we research them!
This was the start of a great experience for G.R.A.S.P.P., we now investigate and train here regularly. Let's start with a little background info...
G.R.A.S.P.P. was called in to do an investigation at the Elks Lodge in Grand Haven, Michigan in July of 2009. Since then we have had several investigations there, as well as being allowed to train at the lodge. The lodge was originally started by performers and entertainers know as the “Jolly Corks” to raise funds for things like the Diabetes Foundation, and other charity work. During our interview with members of the lodge, we learned that the building was built in 1929. The building and all wiring is original to everyone's knowledge. Prior to this, there was a house on this site owned by John W. Hopkins, who was the owner of a small sawmill. Hopkins died on February 9, 1883. The property was later sold to Stephen L. Munroe, who owned it at the time of the “Great Fire of Grand Haven” on October 1, 1889. The home, located next to the Cutler House Hotel, was damaged slightly when one of the hotel's brick walls fell on it. This home was later purchased by Colonel George Olson, who moved the house a couple of blocks away and sold the property to the Elks.
There was a lot of history to go along with the Elks Lodge for the town of Grand Haven. The Elks had already been established in Grand Haven, on Washington St. when they purchased the property from Col. Olson. Many of the people that were involved in its construction were people such as William Hatton (who donated $1,000.00, and all of the leather that was needed to furnish the Elks Lodge), Nathaniel Robbins, Charles W. Cotton, Herman F. Harbeck, Joseph W. O’rien, Edward Seligman, and James P. Armstead. These people were also responsible for the “organization” of the town of Grand Haven, they were all very prominent and well respected in the community.
During our original interview, we were told that members at the lodge were experiencing things such as footsteps in an upstairs ballroom that could be heard from the main floor bar area. These footsteps were usually heard by members after hours while they were cleaning up. There is also whistling heard by some, and singing heard by others. There were two times when the cleaning lady came into the building, and every light in the building was on, when they were all shut off by others before they left. She also sees shadows, and hears footsteps. The cleaning lady’s husband is the maintenance man. While working in the furnace room which has its own door, his experience was the sudden slamming of the door, the ladder that he had outside of the door fell in front of it. This occurred on two different occasions. There has also been Big Band era music heard on the main floor coming from the Ballroom area, accompanied by what sounded like people laughing and having a good time. One other thing that they have heard, 3 solid stomps on the ballroom floor after hours, while they were cleaning up, and joking around with each other, as if someone was telling them to be quiet!!
There are granite planks (currently) in the attic with the names of members who have past away. Nearby, there were some Magnetic Mineral Springs discovered back in 1871, which were thought by some to have medicinal advantages. Also, the Elks Lodge is 3 city blocks from the Grand River and Lake Michigan. Things like these, granite and flowing water, are thought (in theory) to be conductors of paranormal activity.
When we did our original investigation of the Elks Lodge in Grand Haven, Michigan. We were using IR lights, video cameras, digital cameras, digital audio recorders, K-II meters, EMF meters, IR Thermometers, and a few other pieces of equipment. We checked all areas for high EMF readings, and found some that were quite high. Especially places like in the back stairway, where we had a spike of 72.3. We discovered that it was some piping on the wall, with electrical wiring in it. There was a generator in the basement that was putting off a reading of 50, and the electrical boxes put out a 22, we consider a reading of around 2 or less to be normal in a room that has no obvious source of an EM field or electronic devices. EMF (Electromagnetic Field) is known to cause several conditions from uneasy feelings and paranoia to nauseousness in people. Some people can be very sensitive to EMF and will have reactions that come on quickly and can be much more severe.
We had some members of our group who had some personal experiences. But unless we had proof, such as video, audio, or photos to back them up, it just stays a personal experience. However, recently one member had a personal experience which was caught on video and does not play the way that he remembered the event.
In August, we received a call from one of the Elks Trustees. He told us that a little 5 year old boy was found under a grate in front of the Elks Lodge during activities for the Coast Guard Festival. According to this witness, when the child was asked what he was doing in there, the boy replied that he was “following the ghost.” We went down and took statements, and did an investigation of the site. The trustee told us that he was outside on the edge of the sidewalk, where the grass and the sidewalk come together with 3 or 4 other adults. The 5 year old was just inside the front door the last time they had seen him, sitting on the couch having a “time out”. When he heard the boy yell, he thought it was coming from inside the building. So he walked over (about 8 feet away from the sidewalk), and stood on the grate, and looked in the window. Suddenly he realized that the boy was under him, in the hole, under the grate. He lifted the grate, and pulled the boy out. When checking the boy out, he had no scrapes or scratches on him at all… he was not injured in any way.
When we checked out the site, we lifted the grate. It weighed about 90 lbs. When the grate was lying over the hole one of our investigators stood on it, it did not wobble, tilt, or lean. In fact, it was very solid, and did not move at all. Checking out the hole under the grate which is about 4 ½ feet deep, there was no way to get under the grate without lifting it. There are windows that go directly into the hole from the basement... HOWEVER, these windows are locked from the inside of the basement, and they are paneled over, so there is NO WAY a person can go into the basement, open the window, and climb in the hole. If the boy had tried to lift the grate himself, (which we believe that he did not have the physical strength to do) and tried to climb in himself, he would have been hit by the grate, and the dirt bottom of the hole would have been more disheveled than it was. The child was not tall enough to even reach the grate when he was in the hole. We have the statements from the witnesses and the child's grandmother (who is the cleaning lady) as our only other evidence of this event. We concluded that this event was rather odd, but there is no evidence to suggest that anything paranormal had occurred, even though we can't seem to find out how the child got there in the first place.
As far as evidence from the the original investigation, we have a camera that is moving up, down and sideways when no one is even in the room or near it when they are in the room. We captured whispers that are speaking under the voices of our investigators, and are not acknowledged by the investigators at the time. We have one video on the main floor when a loud thump occurs, and people on the main floor think that it occurred upstairs, and at the same time, we have a video recording up stairs when the same thump occurs, and the people upstairs think its downstairs, strange. On three pieces of equipment, there were 2 questions asked, and there were answers for both of them recorded on all 3 pieces of equipment, and it wasn’t our members!! We also caught two different voices in the bar area. One is a woman saying “Help me, help me!!!” and then continues with a man's voice saying “Watch it!!” just seconds before one of our investigators had entered the room, and went to check the tape in the camera. Before she entered, no one was in the room.
During a fund raiser at the lodge we had a couple of our guests that had some personal experiences. One guest was walking up the stairs when she felt a firm tug on her hair. She thought that it was her daughter who was walking behind her and she told her to “knock it off”. Her daughter was a little puzzled at the comment and it wasn't until after their tour when we all started talking about it, that we realized the woman's hair was tugged upward and the daughter was about 8' behind her and several stairs lower than her. This same woman also had her jacket tugged on during their tour and when we reviewed the audio recording from this group we found that they had caught an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that said in 2 different voices, one immediately after the other “Laura / Elizabeth”. There was no one present with either of those names. The name “Laura” is clear as a bell, however “Elizabeth” seems to be a little less clear and some of the group can't agree on exactly what is says.
In March 2010, after talking with members of the lodge, we found out that they were hearing voices, screams and other things, usually in the early morning hours. We decided to have a team spend the night. There were several of the sounds that we were able to debunk rather quickly because of the age of the building and size of the ducts from the old furnace and things like that. During one of many EVP sessions I was with Pat, one of our investigators, we were standing about 2 feet apart when he had a burning sensation on his side/hip area. This area was the side of his body that was next to me. He immediately lifted his shirt and shined the flashlight on the area to see 2 red scratch marks that ran up and down his back. They were fresh marks that still had the thin white line that you see for a few seconds in the middle of the fresh red scratch. The lines were about 6”h long. We changed our investigation style to a more aggressive approach and had no more activity. We went downstairs to report our events to the rest of the group. While we were explaining to the group what had happened to Pat, Kerri, one of our female investigators, jumped and yelled. She said that it felt like she had just been pinched in the thigh. Another female investigator and Kerri went to the ladies room to examine her leg and found a fresh bruise about the size of a half dollar, and within a few more minutes Kerri was feeling nauseous and needed to lay down for a while. Dani and myself went back up stairs a short time later and with a few minutes of another EVP session, Dani had her hair pulled while she was sitting against the wall, in a high backed chair.
We do believe that something is going on at this Elks lodge, but exactly what, we don't know. We plan to continue looking for that perfect piece of the puzzle that will tell us the truth. Since 2009, we have investigated, trained and held several events at the lodge and we have never been disappointed. We learn a little more every time, and we always walk out the door with a new experience to explore.
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