In doing research for my latest book, Ghosts of Georgetown, I became accustomed to wandering down many a dead end. Promising stories peter out, ancient and venerable buildings that by all rights should be chock full of ghosts aren’t, and, most frustratingly, I once tracked down a really good spirit all the way to his home in…Virginia.
This is the life of the ghost hunter, and really any researcher of the historical record. I’m consoled by the idea that this isn’t new, and that ghosts and ephemera are the most elusive of game. Often, I turn to other respected and, um, more conventional organizations for tips and stories. Unfortunately, that can open you up to ridicule, or at the very least a skeptical glance.
Consider this Washington Post article, The Association of Oldest Inhabitants D.C., still a thriving organization, was approached to a “psychical research society” in New York for leads in tracking down a haunted house. After all, if the oldest inhabitants of Washington couldn’t be expected to find a ghost, who could?
The letter to the AOIDC somewhat unhelpfully indicated that “there is a haunted house in Georgetown and another in the vicinity of the navy yard.” Not the most precise information to work with, and the psychical society had some additional requirements. The ghost must be reliable, a “consistent performer, specifically appearing about five times a week. A pretty tall order for most ghosts.
And the kicker? The society offered five times the assessed value of the property if they could guarantee a ghost. Five times? I’m pretty sure I can guarantee that my house is haunted for that much in today’s market. I am, after all, a respected expert in such things. Make an offer, psychical research societies!