EDITOR'S NOTE: The names have been changed to protect the family's privacy.
Paranormal activity is often personal and fleeting and meanders along as a winding country road with odd occurrences popping up like the occasional pothole. After the sudden jolt, the situation levels out and all anyone can see ahead is smooth sailing.
Husband and wife dairy farmers Sam and Claire enjoy a loving history with their Pennsylvania land. The 200-acre Fayette County farm has deep family roots. It is accessed from a steep two-lane roadway miles away from the bustle of city life in a rural southwestern pocket of rolling hills.
Claire speaks hard and strong about the beauty of the farmland and its peaceful setting and details the sweat they endure turning a dollar’s profit. But inside the farmhouse, she has seen three spirits from the “other side” – most likely former tenants she thinks – and endures the playful activities almost daily broadcasting from the second floor.
Just ask Claire about the second floor.
“I haven’t been up there in 10 years,” she says without hesitation. “And I don’t plan on going up there again soon.”
Sam’s parents purchased the farm in 1944 from the Dillon family – a hard-working couple with six children. His parents raised five kids of their own on the land and over the years his four siblings moved away to pursue other careers. Sam stayed behind, and like his father, worked the land as a dairy farmer.
Dad passed away in 1981, leaving Sam to work the family business on his own. But the family make-up began to change in September 1998 when Sam met Claire. They married in 2002.
Claire’s introduction to the dairy farm had little to do with Sam and nothing to do with the cows in the barn. She was hired to care for Sam’s ailing mother – Betty – on the weekends.
“Sam asked me to marry him two years later in 2000,” she said smiling. “But I told him he had to wait. We needed more time to court as a couple.”
The first floor of the farmhouse consists of four rooms and a bathroom – kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom created when they closed in a porch in 2011. There are three bedrooms on the second floor.
“We put a single bed in the living room and nursed his mother there,” Claire said. “For many hours I sat in a cane back chair at the foot of her bed. I was there for anything she needed for nearly four years.”
As the year 2001 was winding down, Betty was growing weaker and by all appearances, it looked like she may not last too much longer.
“I told Betty that Sam and I were planning to get married in 2002. She wanted to be there for the wedding. I asked her how she felt about a summer wedding in June.”
Betty had a different plan.
“She said she wasn’t going to live that long. She wanted the wedding in February 2002. And we agreed to hold the ceremony right in the house so she could be there.”
Shortly after the wedding in late February, the first of a series of odd scenes played out.
“I was sitting in the living room near Betty one night when I saw a shadow move across the dining room wall.”
Claire looked up and through the open doorway into the dining room when the shadow caught her eye.
“It was a man,” she said. “It moved off to the right along the length of the wall. I went into the dining room, but I didn’t see anyone or anything.”
She said that from what she saw and felt, it seemed like a man moving across the room.
Then in March 2002 just two weeks before Betty would pass away, another odd scene played out in the same room but now with both Sam and Claire in the room.
“It was quiet in the room,” Claire said. “And Betty looked up like she was eyeing something in the room. Then she just spoke out. She looked at me and she said, ‘Get those kids' blankets and put them up here in bed with me.’”
Claire simply looked at where Betty was staring near the floor by her bed, and then back at Betty.
“Okay, I will,” she said. “So I pretended to pick up the kids and blankets and put it all next to Betty in bed. And I finally looked at Betty and I asked her, ‘Can you feel them?’”
Betty responded, “I can’t feel them, but as long as they’re in bed, they’ll be warm.”
The next day, Claire followed up.
“I asked her, ‘Those kids. Were they boys or girls?’ She said they were both.”
On March 27, 2002, just two days before Good Friday and Betty’s death, Claire was asleep in her normal cane back chair near the foot of Betty’s bed.
“I heard Betty say, ‘I’m tired,’ and I opened my eyes and looked up. She had her right arm stretched out and she was looking at her deceased husband standing next to the bed. I could see him standing there, but I could also look right through him. He was wearing a dark suit, a white shirt, and a dark tie.”
Sam would later tell Claire that his father’s usual garb was blue jeans and a flannel shirt, but they buried him in a black suit, a white shirt, and a black tie.
“He was facing her and looking down at her with this concerned look on his face. I could see Sam in that face – like an older version of him – and I had never met his father.”
Only a few seconds passed from the time Claire opened her eyes to Betty saying, ‘I’m tired,’ and when her late husband simply faded away.
“Betty closed her eyes at that point and she never spoke another word. She died two days later on Good Friday.”
One final event in 2002 caused both Sam and Claire to wonder about the home and their environment.
“Sam took his wedding ring off at night,” Claire said. “And this one night he set it down, as usual, next to the kitchen sink. This was in April 2002. The next morning he went back to get it, and it was gone. We’ve never seen that ring again.”
Life on the dairy farm continued on as usual for the next two years, until Claire had an experience in 2004 that would change her life in the farmhouse forever.
It was a summer day in 2004 about 8 p.m. when Claire opened the door in the kitchen to the staircase running to the second floor.
“I opened that door and took one step inside, grabbed the door to swing it shut again behind me,” Claire said. “And I looked up at the top of the steps and I just stopped. Standing at the top of the stairs was a small boy in a nightgown – like a gown that went right down to cover his feet. And he had his right index finger in his mouth. I’d say he was about 3 years old.”
Claire said for just a moment or two that she and the boy made eye contact.
“He had short, light hair – and in the front, he had like a Dutch boy cut. And his hair was longer in the back. And the strange thing was – I could see him, but I could also see right through him.”
Claire quickly turned and pushed the door open again, crossed the kitchen, and ran outside to a picnic table where she sat and waited for Sam to finish in the barn. Two hours later, Sam stopped working and joined Claire at the picnic table.
“I told him what happened,” Claire said. “And we walked inside the house and he found a photo and he showed it to me. He said, ‘Is this who you saw?’ And I said, ‘That’s him.’”
The little boy in the photo was Sam’s cousin, John, who had gotten sick, early in life at age 3, and died. And Sam’s memory of his cousin?
He always walked around with his right index finger in his mouth.
After this incident seeing the little boy at the top of the stairs, Claire said activity began in the house that has not gone away.
“You can hear him playing upstairs,” she said. “It’s a regular thing. Most frequently you can hear him playing between about noon and one o’clock.”
The playing activity can be heard from any first-floor room, but Claire says it can be the loudest from the living room.
“Right above the living room, it’s like you can hear him running back and forth and back and forth. I’ve seen our dog even look up when the sounds happen. Sam has heard this too. Sam once came into the house and heard these sounds and went to the staircase in the kitchen and called up. He shouted, ‘Are you up there?’ And it wasn’t me. I wasn’t upstairs.”
In July 2005 another apparition was seen in the house.
“It was evening, but before dark,” Claire said. “Sam was still in the barn working and I was in the kitchen doing dishes. I picked up the sink strainer that had food in it and I walked across the kitchen to the garbage to dump it out. As I was walking back to the sink something caught my attention near the door to the second floor.”
Claire was startled to see an older woman standing in the doorway, in her 70s, about 6 feet tall.
“She was a thick woman – not fat – with stringy hair, a salt-and-pepper color, and wearing an apron.”
The woman spoke one sentence to Claire.
“You’re in my way,” she said sternly.
Unlike the apparition of Sam’s father and the little boy at the top of the stairs, this woman was “solid,” Claire said.
“She looked very real and three-dimensional. I couldn't see through her like the other two.”
Claire tossed the sink strainer in the sink and turned back to look at the woman.
“She was gone,” she said.
Claire again walked outside to the picnic table to wait for Sam to finish work. An hour passed before Sam joined her at the picnic table and she was able to explain what she had just seen.
“Sam asked me to describe the woman in as much detail as I could,” Clair said. “And he finally said that I was describing the woman married to the farmer who his family purchased the farm from.”
Claire asked Sam if he really thought that was the woman in the kitchen one hour earlier.
“Could have been,” Sam said.
Between 2005 and 2011, the only unusual activity at the farm was the steady and constant sound of what seemed like a child running and playing on the second floor. But in 2011, Sam and Claire made a change to the farmhouse.
“We took a first-floor porch and we converted it into a bedroom,” Claire said.
Somehow that construction project changed the sounds of playing coming from the second floor.
“After that time,” Clair said, “it got louder like to a rowdier level.”
The couple never had a problem with the door that opened into the porch – which now opened into a bedroom.
“After the construction, sometimes you can’t open the door. You can try all you want, but it just won’t budge. And I find myself standing there and arguing with – I’m not sure – maybe a child – and I say, ‘Let me in this door.’ And I stand there and shout and finally I have to walk away. And then I come back and try the door and it opens fine with no problem.”
Claire said the jammed door problem occurs about twice a month.
Between the construction in 2011 and today, Claire said this rowdy activity continues.
“Sometimes you hear a sound like something heavy is rolling down the stairs to the first floor,” she said. “Like a heavy toy. But you open the door and look and there’s never anything there.”
Claire has avoided the second floor since the apparition incident with the boy in 2004.
“I won’t go up there again,” she said. “I’m too afraid. I don't know what I might encounter up there and I don’t want to know.”
She said that former family members, some of who have passed away, occupied those rooms.
“And nothing has ever been touched,” she said. “The furniture, the clothing, and the personal belongings – they’re all up there and over the years nothing has been touched.”
During a tour of the farmhouse on Friday, June 20, 2014, Sam sat at his kitchen table and opened up about two experiences with apparitions before he met Claire.
Five years after his father’s passing, in 1986, Sam saw an image of him.
“I was just going into the barn,” Sam said, “and I caught a glimpse of him. I saw Dad’s face right there in front of me”
He was only able to see his father’s face and the image quickly faded.
Sam’s second encounter with an apparition also occurred in the barn sometime after 1990.
“I remember it was a Wednesday,” Sam said. “I was near the barn and I looked up and I saw this image coming out of the barn.”
But the image Sam saw was only part of a person – from the waist down.
“I seemed to be looking at the bottom half of someone,” he said. “The person was only waist high. I saw a petticoat. And I also seemed to recognize who it was.”
Sam believed that he was looking at his Aunt Diane – who at the time was alive and well.
“But Aunt Diane died the following Saturday – just four days after I saw this image of her coming out of the barn.”
But aside from the brief apparition experiences over the years, and the continuing playful sounds from the second floor, Claire says that she and Sam enjoy the property and are at peace there.
“Sometimes we just go outside and lie down and stare up at the stars,” she said. “We love our home. It’s very peaceful here.”
Will they ever use three second-floor rooms?
“Our son and his wife and three kids are coming to town from Colorado for a 10-day visit in July,” Claire says, cocking her head back and rolling her eyes upward toward the second floor. “I could use the extra rooms for company, but I’m just not going to risk it.”
A three-bedroom trailer on the property will be readied for the out-of-towners instead.
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