Chuck's Paranormal Adventures
Informational Trip - The Craig House - Monmouth Battlefield,
The Craig House at Monmouth Battlefield (located just off of Route 9 in Manalapan) has been a historical place I have wondered about since I started investigating at the Battlefield. The farmhouse, even though did not take part in the Battle, happened to be in the path of the British advance. It is one of the few farmhouses that survived the battle.
As the British approached, the owner John Craig, was already off fighting with the Continental Army. His wife Ann, fearing what the British soldiers might do, packed up her children, slaves and belongings and headed off away from the advance. As the British arrived, they used the house as a field hospital for the wounded soldiers. Story also has it that Ann Craig had taken the family silver and put it to the bottom of the well by the house to keep the British from finding it.
As the heat of the day was intense, the British basically emptied the well of its water to drink and stay cool. Of course once it was drained of the water, the silver was there for the taking! Why Ann Craig did not take her silver with her is something only she could answer. Maybe out of fear of being captured during her families escape?
Well as I have been investigating at the Battlefield, I often wondered about the Craig house, especially in the light of the paranormal activity I have seemed to get at the Sutfin farmhouse, which is about a mile away across the farm fields. One day I did talk to one of the Park Rangers about the Craig house and if he ever heard any stories about paranormal activity in the house.
He told me did not know of anything personally, but he did say that a couple of the people who work out on the Battlefield said they do not like to go into the basement because they got "creeped" out down there. Since there is a strong possibility that some soldiers died at the house and story has it that some of them were buried in unmarked graves behind the house, there could be some paranormal activity.
Well as luck would have it, the Visitor Center was torn down and being reconstructed to be open for the 2013 season. So since there was no place for people to visit on Sunday's, the non-profit group "Friends of Monmouth Battlefield" would have the Craig House open to the public from 12-4pm on Sundays till the fall. To be this was an excellent opportunity to 1) finally get inside the house and 2) see if there was any way I could get permission to investigate the house.
Of course I first blundered when I parked over near the Sutfin house to walk to the Craig house. Not realizing I could park over by the Craig house, I ended up walking the near 1+ mile to the house over the farm fields and through some forest.
Yes it took me nearly 40-45 minutes to make the hike over to the farmhouse. I really didn't mind as I had not ventured past the Sutfin house on my previous trips here, so it was new. What was really interesting was that as I got a couple of hundred yards past the farmhouse, the Mel Meter started to pick up an on and off hits, from a 0.1 to a 0.5mg reading. Like I was being followed or escorted. This was much like what happened to me and my friend Mario at the cemetery in Bound Brook.
This continued until there was a patch of woods I could cross through on a path instead of walking over the hot semi-muddy farm land. After I passed through the woods and got on to the last stretch of road, the Mel Meter went back to a flat 0.0. As I was noting this on my digital recorder (always recording!), I did manage amazingly enough to catch an EVP!
Craig House EVP - As I am noting the 0.0 reading and thinking that whatever was following me had stopped, I catch an EVP that sounds like either "sunny day" or "Sunday". Looped twice at the end. Either word fits as it was Sunday and it was a sunny day!
As I was making my way up to an access road, I met a father and his 2 kids who he was taking for a stroll in the area. When he asked what I was doing, I said I was a ghost hunter coming to check out the Craig House. He laughed and told me his daughter said that when she saw me walking with devices in my hand she guessed exactly that was what I was doing!
They escorted me to the Craig House and outside I met a fellow named Pete, who was dressed in a British uniform. He was there to give tours of the house and provide knowledge about the Battle itself. The perfect person to talk to! Of course the last thing expected is for a paranormal investigator to come and ask questions about ghosts and debunk stories of old ghost stories floating around on the internet!
I told Pete I was a ghost hunter (plus the family came back to mention to him that they thought it was interesting that a real life ghost hunter showed up while they were there!) and asked if it was alright for me to run my Mel-Meter REM and digital recorder while he showed me the different rooms in the house. Though the only place I could not go was the basement!
I did not catch any EVP or any odd spikes on the Mel-Meter REM, but the tour of the house was fascinating. Here are some of the indoor pictures I took of the downstairs after the tour (I forgot to take pictures upstairs).
This is when you enter the house, you are walking into what was the kitchen. The furniture and items are not originally from the house, but they are time period pieces that would have been used during the 1700's.
This is the other half of the kitchen area. The item with the woven rope and wood to the left was a bed.
The door to the right in the first picture led into this room, where they stored milk and food back in the day. Not quite a basement, but the way it was set up made it cool in the house. Even on this day when it was near 80F outside, this room was still quite cool.
This was the stairs leading up to the attic. This was just to the right when you walked into the kitchen area. I could not go upstairs as this was blocked off, so I stuck my camera up for a quick pick. The blue object to the top left is a light bulb in the ceiling and is not an orb.
This room was I guess what you could consider the family room where the better furniture would have been kept, though I was told the hall way between here and the kitchen (no photo taken of that) was where family business would have done. Odd not in this room, but that was over 200+ years ago.
This was a downstairs bedroom that had its own fireplace just out of view to the left.
The upstairs had a couple of bedrooms and a tool room where items were fixed or worked on. The upstairs flooring was uneven in places, creating a "funhouse" effect in some spots.
Afterward, we stepped outside and I asked Pete about a few of the paranormal claims that had been handed down over the years, to see if there was any validity to them or where they just old stories from long ago.
1) The Hessian Soldier Ghost Patrol - There was a story that farmers back in the 1800's would flee off the fields as night settled as they said the ghosts of Hessian soldiers would come out of the woods as if getting ready to attack. Pete, being a very good historian of the battle, knew that Hessians were already a couple of miles ahead of the action and had no bearing on the battle. I had wanted to look into this story when I first read it, but I don't see it really has any traction to it. - Claim: Debunked
2) The Colonial soldier killed by cannon fire at Old Tennent Church - There is a story long handed down that a Colonial solider sat down under an oak tree in front of the church to take a rest during the battle. As he sat there, a British cannonball landed near him and came up and hit him, ripping off his shoulder and killing him. The ghost is supposed to still be wandering the grounds. Pete explained that George Washington's main battle line (that I have visited) was at the maximum range of the British artillery. Old Tennent Church sits a good near mile behind Washington's line. There is no way a cannonball could have been fired from the British position and landed near the church and have it take out the solider. - Claim: Debunked
Now this does not debunk the claim of soldiers wandering the Old Tennent Church grounds. The Church was used as a field hospital, many died there. There is a mass grave in front of the Church of unnamed soldiers who lost their lives that day. I have caught several EVP there as others have. The only thing debunked is the cannonball killing the soldier in front of the church. Now maybe the soldier was near an oak tree on the battlefield, that is more likely the real story.
Pete also said there were stories that during the battle, Colonial soldiers went up in the Church tower to create sniper fire at the British. That is also preposterous. When you are actually there and know and see the distance, you can easily debunk that claim as no musket is firing 2 miles at the British lines.
3) The spirit of Molly "Pitcher" Hays seen by park visitors - Another story I have read online is that of park visitors who have said to Park staff that they were very impressed by the Molly Pitcher actress who plays her part well. Then the Park staff said they have no Molly Pitcher reenactor there. Of course there is no mention of how many times this has happened or when. I have focused my efforts to finding this "ghost" in the area that is said by the Park Service to be where she helped the cannon crew when her husband was injured. I asked Pete about this area and the overlook of the spring nearby where she is supposed to have gotten her water at. Was this the most logical place to conclude this is where she was at during the battle? Pete said yes. There are 2 other areas that are possible Molly Pitcher water holes, but the place I have been at is the most likely.
I haven't seen the ghost, I have not gotten any EVP from her or any Ghost Box chatter from anybody claiming to be Molly Hays or Molly Pitcher. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened or she is not there. Could just be bad timing on my part. - Claim: Unresolved.
I then went back into the house to meet Dr. David Martin, the Vice President of the "Friends of Monmouth Battlefield" to ask him a question about the Cobb House, another house located near the battlefield. At first when I was talking to him, I had the feeling that he was not into the paranormal, but turned out he did have a curiosity. I explained how I believed Monmouth Battlefield was like a mini-version of Gettysburg and I had encountered some activity here.
He told me they believe there are still mass graves yet to be discovered around the battlefield, but to find them requires the use of ground penetrating radar and that cost $$$$ to do. There is no guarantee any bones would be found after 230+ years, depending on the chemistry of the soil and what it would do to the bones. I asked about a chance to investigate at the Craig House, but he told me that permission had to come from the Park service, so that sort of put that idea on the back burner for now.
It was a great pleasure to talk to Pete and Dr. Martin, very knowledgeable and helped answer some questions I had about the battle, troop positions and of course helping debunk some of the ghost stories I had read online before I even came to the park to investigate. Pete even told me about a paranormal experience he had when he was younger. If there is one thing I have noticed, because of all the awareness now of the paranormal, people aren't afraid to tell their stories anymore out of fear of being labeled crazy. I then made the big hike back to my car to head on home.
I will return to the Craig house one day in the future, at the least to investigate around the building, try some trigger objects again and see what happens.