A little over a week ago, Black Raven Paranormal* investigated Montgomery Hall Park in Staunton, VA. As mentioned in a previous post, this historic location began life as a grand plantation, home to illustrious lawyer John Howe Peyton, his wife Ann Montgomery Lewis Peyton (for whom the estate was named), and their 10 children: Susan, John Lewis, Ann (who died very young), Mary, Lucy, Elizabeth, Margaret, Yelverton, Virginia, and Cornelia. Several other families lived in the house before it was acquired by the city in 1946.
During our investigation, we separated into small teams and rotated among several “hot spots,” focusing on the attic, second floor, and basement. We obtained no visual evidence from photographs or video; however, some very interesting audio clips were caught. The most shocking of these came over our walkie talkies, which I believe is a first for Black Raven Paranormal. It should be noted here that every group had a walkie and we were all on the same channel; however, only select groups heard the voices coming through the walkies. The first voice that came through was only heard by one group, which was stationed in the attic. The voice appears to be that of a child saying “hello.”
The second walkie incident occurred moments later. This time, both my group, which was in the basement, and the group in the attic heard the voice. Again, it sounded like a child, and it was apparently saying, “Hello, Jen. Hello.” Let me say that this was incredibly creepy, as one of my group members was indeed named Jen and she has been a regular visitor to Montgomery Hall for over 25 years. Was this the spirit of a child recognizing and greeting her? Or did our walkies maybe pick up a random signal from something like a baby monitor? It’s really impossible to know. For me, I remain skeptical, but it is interesting that only a couple of us picked up anything on our walkies, and that the voice mentioned the name of one of our group members (although admittedly Jen is not an uncommon name).
After this experience with the walkie talkie, my group decided to conduct a spirit box session while we were still in the basement. A spirit box, or ghost box, is essentially a hacked radio that continually scans through the AM or FM bands. You can control the speed at which it scans, and can scan forward or backward. The idea is that spirits can use the bits of words and sentences from the radio or the white noise of the static to form their own words and sentences. Since it is scanning through radio stations, you do have to be skeptical. However, occasionally you’ll get a direct response to a question that seems to be much more than just coincidence, especially when the response extends over several seconds. During this session, we got a couple of responses that did make us raise an eyebrow. Several times during the night we asked if there were slaves buried at Montgomery Hall. Certainly it stands to reason that a slave cemetery was located somewhere on the grounds, but it has never been found. When the question was posed this time, we got an answer that sounds like a male voice stating, “I don’t know.” Not an entirely helpful response, but an appropriate one, given the question.
The second interesting clip we got was a few minutes later. We asked if whoever was around us could say their name. A female voice on the spirit box responded, “Elizabeth.” This was very significant to us, as that is the name of one of the children of John and Ann Peyton, the original owners of the house.
The last audio clip the team captured was an electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP. A group was in the break room on the second floor. One of the members was discussing what had happened with the walkie talkies and as he speaks, you can clearly hear a male whisper saying, “Jonathan.” Obviously the group does not hear this whisper as it happens. I don’t know enough of the names of the various family members who lived at Montgomery Hall to determine if this could be associated with one of them. None of the Peyton children were named Jonathan, although there were many Johns in that family line. Perhaps it is the name of a later resident. It is always tricky when you get names during an investigation. People who live or work in haunted locations usually want to know who it is that’s doing the haunting; however, it is impossible to say with any certainty that a specific person is the ghost, or even that it IS a ghost. We think EVPs could be the voices of the dead, but even that is just a theory, so hearing one of those voices speak a name could mean a lot or could mean nothing. It definitely is provocative when names come through during investigations, though, and it’s worth presenting as evidence, although evidence of exactly what remains to be seen.
To listen to these audio clips, view photos, and read the investigation report, please go to our website, www.blackravenparanormal.com, click on Case Files, and scroll down to Montgomery Hall.
* Please note that I am no longer affiliated with the Black Raven Paranormal Society; however, their website is still available for viewing.