Archive for Thursday, October 28, 2010

Event covers county’s haunted history

October 28, 2010

Janet Reed’s journey into the most historic — and what some claim to be the most haunted — sites in the Midwest began about eight years ago when she says she got a first-hand taste of what seeing a ghost was all about.

“What got me started was seeing the ghost at Sauer Castle in broad daylight,” Reed said of a trip she took years ago with her children, during which she claims to have seen a woman screaming from the top of the castle’s uppermost tower.

Even with the help of a police dog, Reed said, nobody was found in the tower of the Kansas City, Kan., landmark, and Reed said the incident still goes down as the most terrifying of her life.

“It was so incredible that we all went home immediately and wrote down in detail what we saw … and it stayed in our minds ever since,” Reed said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything as frightening as what we saw at Sauer Castle.”

Though scary, Reed’s trip to Sauer Castle also became an inspiring one. It was a short time later that she would help start the Paranormal Encounter Documentation and Research Organization, a six-member group based in Kansas City that conducts investigations of locations where ghost sightings have been alleged. The group’s investigations have taken it to areas of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Kentucky, but Reed said much of P.E.D.R.O.’s investigations center on the Kansas City metro area.

“We’ve seen a lot of (places where sightings have occurred) and we’ve researched a lot of the ghost stories in the metro area,” Reed said.

P.E.D.R.O.’s members will visit another historic site, but this time they’ll go as teachers, Friday when the group conducts “Double Dose of Ghosts” at the Wyandotte County Historical Museum in Bonner Springs. The event will have two parts to it, the first of which will involve a look at haunted history throughout Wyandotte County.

“We take a lot of the historic sites and the ghost stories and the places we’ve investigated, and we tie them back to artifacts at the museum, as well,” said Reed, who also serves on the board of the Wyandotte County Historical Society.

One example tied to the museum, Reed said, will be the story of Lyda, Helena and Ida Conley, sisters who, in the early part of the 20th century, fought to prevent the sale of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, Kan. That cemetery, which has since been renamed the Wyandot National Burying Ground, is now thought to be haunted.

The sisters went so far as to move into the cemetery itself, Reed said, brandishing guns to keep people out when necessary. One of those guns is now on display at the museum.

“It’s a fun side of history that you don’t always hear — the calamities that most people don’t always discuss that kind of really made up the history of (Kansas City),” Reed said.

The second part of the event will be “Ghost Hunting 101,” a class that Reed said “covers everything that someone would need to know how to form their own paranormal team,” from knowing how to interview a witness or source to researching a location to the actual investigation of a haunted site.

All the proceeds from the event will go back to the museum. Reed said the location was fitting since it is one of the places Reed’s team has investigated for ghosts.

“The museum is haunted; they’ve called us in to do an investigation a couple of times,” Reed said. “The cemetery record books have come off the shelf several times. The door rings quite a bit when no one is there.”

Reed said “Double Dose of Ghosts” would be a “fun” look at history, even for those who don’t believe in the supernatural. And she added the purpose of the event wasn’t to tell anyone what to believe, but to only provide information, out of which participants can and should form their own conclusions.

“We teach other people how to ghost hunt, (but) what they find and what they believe it means is up to them,” Reed said.

“Double Dose of Ghosts” will start at 6 p.m. Friday at the Wyandotte County Historical Museum, 631 N. 126th St. Tickets are $15 for each part of the program or $25 for both and can be purchased at the event or by calling Trish Schurkamp at (913) 573-5002.

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