Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Things That Go Bump, Chapter 3: Graveyard Ghost Hunt

Welcome back, fans of all things ghastly and ghostly!

As promised, this week I'm featuring yet another amateur ghost hunt. But it won't be more of the same -- not only did I catch a pair of new EVPs, I got a couple of interesting photographs as well.

This week's venture into the unknown (okay, so they're just local cemeteries, but allow me a little artistic license here) featured some exciting new gear.

As I said last week, I was suspicious that the 'yes' EVP might well be wind noise coupled with the cheap Automatic Limiting Circuit on my modestly-priced Olympus VN-4100PC voice recorder.

So this week, I took out two new pieces of gear. First up is a pro-grade Zoom H1 field recorder, used by musicians and media people to record everything from interviews to live concerts. The Zoom is shown below:

It's small and designed for one-handed operation, even if the dark. Perfect for ghost hunting!

Next up was a sound rig worthy of any movie production company. Donated for the day by a generous interested party, this rig included a Sennheiser PK40 mic, a heavy-duty windscreen, and a Tascam DR-40 digital recorder. Together, they form a recording system composed of of sheer solidified awesome.

I also took the usual array of stuff -- digital camera, Sony Handycam hi-def video camera, Ramsey Tri-Field Meter, my e-field sensor, and the K2.

Since I had a video camera, I made a couple of short movies! Since I'm apparently an idiot, I wound up with only one. Click below to see the gear, being loaded before I left for the graveyards on a clear but windy Friday morning:


So, armed with every piece of ghost-hunting gear eBay and begging can provide, I set out.

I took the whole day off from work to do these cemetery trips. I planned to have all day. I got up early, loaded my gear carefully, crossed every T and dotted every I.

Naturally, the official Ghost Hunting Field Vehicle refused to crank.

You know you're a Redneck Ghost Hunter when your pickup won't start and you wind up fixing it with Vise-Grips and Duct Tape.


After finally getting on the road, I returned to Rock Hill, the site of last week's 'yes' EVP.

By the time I arrived, the wind was ferocious, gusting up to 35 MPH. Hardly ideal conditions for an outdoor EVP session, but having sworn off of rational decisions years ago I forged ahead.

Before we get to the EVP evidence (and yes, there is some!), let's look at a couple of odd photos.

I stood at the cemetery fence and just panned across it, taking pictures snap-snap-snap. Most of them looked like this:

Just a cemetery, in broad daylight.

But look at the images below, which were taken in rapid succession:

That smokey mist wasn't visible to my eyes. According to the EXIF information on the photos, the first one was taken at 11:53:55 AM. The second, at 11:53:59 AM. The light should have been the same. I didn't see smoke or dust.

So what the heck is that, in the bottom photo?

No idea.

Take a look at another set of Rock Hill photos.

There it is again. Top photo was taken at 11:54:11 AM. The bottom, at 11:54:14 AM. Again, I saw no smoke, dust, or mist with my eyes.

There was also a video camera running while these images were taken. The hi-def Sony didn't see any dust or smoke either.

So, are we looking at a camera artifact? If so, it only took place at Rock Hill. None of the Tula or Midway images repeated this effect.


Now, on to the EVP!

As you recall, last week I captured a burst of noise that sounded a lot like a spoken YES. I was suspicious because it coincided with a puff of wind.

Well, gentle readers, I had wind by the bushel on Friday, when all this evidence was collected.

The Zoom H1, which arrived in the mail the day before I set out, didn't come with a windscreen. Which means it made stunning recordings between gusts and was absolutely overwhelmed by gusts. The Olympus has a noise floor so high wind has to work really hard to be heard above it anyway.

But the Sennheiser mic inside 'Mr. Fuzzy,' the world's most amazing windscreen, ignored the raging gales completely.

The first thing I did upon arriving at Rock Hill was introduce myself and note that it seemed someone had answered my question "So you guys were all Missionary Baptists, right?" on my previous visit.

I then asked if anyone present had answered me.

Listen for yourself. If you don't have headphones, crank this one up:


Here is it again, with the possible EVP boosted:


Here it is, looped, for those without 'phones:


Is that another faint 'yes?'

Not sure. The Zoom was running, but wind noise rendered it useless. The video camera didn't catch a thing aside from me. The Olympus didn't either.

So -- one possible EVP, a couple of weird photos. I'll be going back to Rock Hill soon!


Tula Cemetery is another of my favorite haunts for EVP sessions. This time, I laid out all my gear, and watched for any fluctuations in electric, RF, or EMF fields.

Got nothing. No surprise there.

I took a number of still photos and ran the Sony video camera the whole time I was there. None of these images captured anything strange.

There you see the video cam, aimed into the cemetery, with my Ectoplasmic Pursuit Vehicle parked majestically in the background.

I ran all three audio recorders, snapped a lot of pics, walked and talked and asked and joked. If I got any responses that day, I missed them.

I did attract the attention of a pair of sour-faced ladies in a minivan, who looked at my gear and myself with the sort of expression one normally reserves for recently convicted felons one discovers hiding in one's jewelry box. Lady Number Two snatched up her cell phone and began describing me, no doubt to the local constabulary, before I could even offer a smile and wave.

That concluded my session at Tula, as ghost hunting is not seen as entirely savory hereabouts.

If you want to listen to the whole audio track, here it is: Tulafull.mp3. Maybe I missed something. This is an MP3 file to save space, but if anyone wants the WAV file, let me know.


Midway is a tiny hilltop cemetery located at the end of a dirt logging road well off any track, beaten or not.

Moreover, it's familiar to me because many of my relatives are buried there.

As you can see, it's a small place, seldom used. I took a number of photos, and look at this one:

See that odd purple discoloration at the bottom, just to the left of the camera tripod?

I don't know what that is. It never repeated, though.

The next item of interest from Midway is a single brief EVP. Again, I ran all 3 of my audio recording devices. The Sennheiser/Tascam DR-40, the Zoom H1, the humble Olympus.

What follows was caught only on the Olympus. I was carrying the Sennheiser. The Zoom was atop a headstone. The Olympus was three feet away from the Zoom, in my gear bag.

I thought I heard faint music earlier, as I walked about. None showed up on the Tascam or Zoom recordings. But I got this brief clip from the Olympus. Take a listen, and see what you think.


It's faint, but you can hear the high notes, or what sound like high notes.

Here it is again, looped and amped:


I tramped around for a long time, trying to provoke a response. The place is peaceful, but a bit on the derelict side, and the woods are taking it slowly but surely back.

Eventually, I heard the sound of crunching gravel, and spied a vehicle winding its way up the dirt road toward the cemetery. Now, while I'm perfectly comfortable tramping around headstones all by my lonesome, Midway acquired a reputation a few years ago as being a favorite hangout for tweakers and their pals the crackheads, so I packed my gear in a hurry and scooted out of there before I made the acquaintance of anyone calling themselves Snoogie or Rip Hammer.

But, all in all, it wasn't a bad day for dabbling in Things Man Was Not Meant To Dabble Within. I got a couple of unexplained mist photos, a weird purple haze, an EVP that might say yes, and a snatch of faint otherworldly music. And I got to play with some awesome if borrowed gear! Thanks again to my Anonymous Benefactor.

If anyone would like to listen to full audio recordings of the EVP sessions, let me know! I'm running out of time today, so I don't think I'll get the full files uploaded and linked. But I have them, so just ask.

 Next week will be the final installment of my Bump in the Night blogs. Hopefully the wind will be a bit calmer, and I can find some exciting new locations, and not be arrested while recording.

One final note -- that book featured in the opening photo? The one in stacks by the skull, between the gargoyles? This book?

That's my book.  It's the print version of the Markhat novel that came out last December. If you've been waiting for the print version, The Broken Bell goes on sale in print format on November 6! You can pre-order from Amazon now. I'll cry if you don't.


  1. It's easier for spirits to cross over near dawn and dusk. Not that they don't cross in daylight, but for better results, try early or late. Early is safer. Some things that come out after dark, well, they're better left on the other side...

  2. I should also add that if you go cow-tipping in a graveyard at prepared to hear footsteps that ... are not of the cow variety. The spooks apparently are protective of their cattle!!!

  3. Maria --

    If and when I am a ghost, and I come upon people being mean to cows, I will go full-blown Wes Craven on their butts!

    If I was a ghost, too, I'd find the 'Ghost Hunters' TV crew and give them EVPs that complained about SyFy cancelling Eureka and demanding that they pick up and reboot Firefly. Because I'm still a geek, even as a ghost, I hope.

  4. *I* wasn't tipping the cows. Even had I wanted to, those boys ran past me so fast on the way out of the graveyard, I wouldn't have stood a chance. I never even saw a cow. There were definitely footsteps and it wasn't until I followed my brothers and cousins out that they told me THERE WAS NO COW. The graveyard was fenced (albeit badly) so it is entirely possible there was no cow. And it is possible that the footsteps were outside the graveyard. From a cow belonging to the herd they thought was inside the graveyard. Or not. The boys lost interest in cow-tipping after that.

    Don't worry. You'll remain a geek. Some things cannot be changed. :>)