Since my wife Colleen was too busy with work, I had to go solo for our third and final ghost hunting event with the Southampton Historical Museum (SHM) on Saturday. Unfortunately for her, the event was at the historic, and reputedly haunted, Rogers Mansion on Meeting House Lane in Southampton. The mansion, which serves as SHM’s headquarters, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s actually part of a 12-building complex with additional historic structures, including a schoolhouse and much more.
SHM Director Tom Edmonds once again shared some background about the site and the whaling era, which is tied into its history. The museum explains on its website, southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.
William Rogers purchased the property in 1648 which was owned by a Rogers descendent until 1880. In 1899 the dwelling was purchased by Samuel Longstreth Parrish; an attorney from New York City, summer colonist, and founder of the Parrish Art Museum. Later, in 1952 the Southampton Colonial Society leased the house and grounds and began restoration. The house is filled with furnishings donated by members of the Southampton community and date mostly from the Victorian (1837-1901) and Edwardian eras (1901-1910). On the grounds behind the mansion is Old Southampton Village with historic structures collected from different areas of Southampton. They include a 19th century paint store, a blacksmith’s shop, a cobbler’s shop, a one-room schoolhouse, and a colonial era barn that was seized by British soldiers to lodge their horses during the Revolutionary War.
Now onto the haunted stuff. We’ve heard stories of a female ghost—some believe it is one of Nathaniel Rogers’ two wives, who were also sisters—but I’ve also been told of people hearing loud footsteps upstairs and noise as if more than one person is up there, a party of people sometimes, but in fact no one is there at all.
On Saturday, we got a large crowd of people from all over the Island, and many were eager to share their ghostly experiences—two even had photos for me to review. Like the Halsey House event, after Tom spoke, I did a talk and explained in detail how we ghost hunt and the various pieces of equipment we use, as well as sharing some experiences, thoughts and beliefs about the paranormal. Then we just let people explore the house freely, use the equipment and try their hands at investigating the paranormal. The place is loaded with odd, semi-creepy antiques and objects.
Regretfully, I think some participants had hoped we’d do a more organized investigation as a group, but that would prove quite difficult with the crowd of about 25-plus who came. I did my best to speak to everyone, give insights where I could and I took a couple people around from room to room with my devices. Perhaps if Colleen was able to come we could have split into two groups, sat in separate areas of the house and then tried to make contact with the dead.
I still think most had a good time and learned something about what we do, so they could get started investigating on their own at some point. Like before, a few guests had experience ghost hunting—one guy even brought his own KII EMF meter—and our favorite trio from Yaphank, Steve Merlino and sisters Terri and Jo-Anne Horton, returned for a three-event hattrick! I am so grateful that they attended all three events and helped out when needed. Two young women, including one from the Ross School, came and asked a lot of questions for the Ross student’s senior project about Long Island folklore, which was refreshing. I think I was able to help her out and will connect her with some others who can inform the project, if she decides to get in touch. Another couple shared what they believed to be ghost photos from Williamsburg, Virginia. The photos were interesting and I tried to offer some alternative explanations for what appeared to be ghosts and orbs in the images. Whether they turn out to be of paranormal origin or not, it’s important to explore all other avenues of explanation.
Overall, I’m not sure anyone caught any really compelling evidence on Saturday, but I truly believe the Rogers Mansion is in fact haunted. I will report more after Colleen and I investigate it on our own, or if anyone comes forward with something from that night. For now, we’ll call Saturday a successful educational and entertaining experience and say a good time was had by all.
The best part? Tom invited us back next year! He left me a lovely Colonizing Southampton book and note asking for us to return, so we’ll learn from what we did well, and not so well, and do it all even better in October 2014. See you then!