Ghosts in the museum

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:56

NEWTON — Dan Finkle, curator of the Newton Fireman’s Museum on Spring Street, said the visit by Minx Intuitive on Saturday, Oct. 15, was the latest in a handful of paranormal investigative teams to seek answers to the strange occurrences at the museum. Finkle attests that a lot of unsettling things have happened while working in the old firehouse. Things he can’t explain - let alone understand. The museum is located in the first firehouse in Newton’s history, built in 1891. A new firehouse was built on Mill Street in 1979 since the Spring Street station was too small to accommodate modern trucks and equipment. Opening the museum was the brainchild of Harold “Blacky” Blackwell, a Newton fireman who passed away over 20 years ago. The museum became Blackwell’s passion. He collected memorabilia and old equipment, organized displays and opened the facility to the public. Fireman Bob Caffrey was the second curator who continued where Blackwell left off. After Caffrey became ill the museum was closed and Finkle’s tenure began. “There are a million and one stories out there told by people who experienced things here,” said Finkle. For instance, despite there being a no smoking policy in the building many have smelled a strong and distinct odor of a pipe smoke - similar to the applewood cherry tobacco that Blacky smoked. Finkle admits to smelling the tobacco, as does Suzanne Miller, a member of the Newton Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary. “It's not only the old-timers that have stories," said Finkle. "Over the past 10 or 20 years more stories have surfaced." Finkle said that one day while he was working after the museum had closed a mannequin near the front of the building fell. "But it didn’t just fall - it was lying nearly halfway across the room." Finkle said that people have heard things dragged across the floor above them when they knew no one was up there. Even with the strange activity he has witnessed, Finkle still is not a total believer. “I don’t know if I personally believe all of it, the orbs some of the other investigation teams have seen and some of the other stories, but I do believe there is something going on here.” Enter Donna Seekamp, owner of the paranormal research team Minx Intuitive. Minx contacted Finkle after researching sites of paranormal activity in the area. Finkle was glad to give her access. Seekamp, a self-described intuitive with “extra sensory perception,” made a preliminary walk-through to determine if there were any energies that would warrant an investigation. After the initial visit her suspicions were confirmed and a full investigation was scheduled. Seekamp and her team, which included paranormal technical specialist Brad Lombardo and intuitive Jennifer Norris, descended on the museum with flashlights, a video camera, a K2 meter which detects and measures electromagnetic fields and an Ovilus which translates electromagnetic forces into words. The first order of business was to video tape the experiences of the people who attended that evening as well as conduct an interview delving into whether or not they believe in the paranormal. Then the investigation began. With the light dimmed, Seekamp walked the main floor of the museum with the K2 meter looking for activity. She said she kept being called to the upstairs but ignored the calls until she completed her sweep of the first floor. Focusing on the energy downstairs, she said she identified Leo McCluskey, Newton Fire Chief from 1954-1955 who has since passed away. Seekamp said that McCluskey left a part of his presence in the firehouse. Seekamp confirmed who she was seeing when Finkle showed her a picture of the chief that was located in a different part of the building, on the upstairs floor, that had been calling Seekamp. Once upstairs, in the front room of the building, two flashlights were set up on either end of the room. Seekamp explained that beings have the ability to direct their energy and turn flashlights on and off, allowing them to communicate with the people in the room. Seekamp surveyed the room with the K2 meter and found an area that registered an electromagnetic field strongly and regularly. Seekamp checked for outlets and other electrical devices in the area that might make the meter go haywire, but none were found. Seekamp and Norris began to talk in the direction of where the energy was coming from in an effort to make contact. “Is there anyone in here with us?" asked Seekamp. "If there is someone in here with us, would you please turn on the flash light and let us know you are here?" With that, the flashlight on the right side of the room lit up, glowed at full force, then went out. Everyone in the room gasped, but Seekamp and Norris were encouraged and began asking yes and no questions. Through several and consistent on and offs of the flashlight (on meaning yes and off meaning no) it was determined that they were speaking with a gentleman, who was a fireman, who remembered and fought the fire of 1872 (a historic fire where nearly the entire town of Newton was lost). He said he fought the fire by pulling a water truck and confirmed horse drawn water trucks came after the 1872 fire. The entity did not seem to want his audience to leave, almost as if it was enjoying the company. More questions were asked and it was disclosed that he was never married, had no children, and died of an illness at around the age of 35. Just was the team was getting ready to leave, the flashlight on the left side of the room lit. Upon attempting to make contact, that entity was less responsive, and seemed to just enjoy turning the light on and off. The flashlight on the right side of the room continued to glow dimly. Norris explained that it would be very difficult for a being to light two items on different ends of a room simultaneously. The team and witnesses felt bad about leaving the spirit. He seemed to want everyone to stay and visit, but all the questions were answered and no one knew what to ask next. Although the flashlight continued to burn dimly, having no more questions to ask, and being unable to get responses from the second entity, the lights were turned back on and the session was over. “The more I see the more my opinion changes," said Finkle. "I never thought I would have a chance to interview someone from the 1870s, I never expected to see what I saw this evening." Seekamp and Norris agreed that they received proof of paranormal events at the Newton Fireman’s Museum. However, no one felt like they were in danger and Seekamp said the entities in the museum were not harmful. For more information on the museum and to see footage of prior investigations, go to Minx Intuitive and Donna Seekamp can be reached at 570-775-6305.