A discussion of tours and ghosts written by the author of best-selling local book 'Haunted Savannah' and noted speaker at Ghostock II. His work has been featured on the Travel Channel, ConnectSavannah, the Savannah Morning News, WSOK Radio, and the New York Daily News.
For reservations for either Ghost Tours or Haunted Pub Crawls in Savannah, please call (912) 604-3007.
- Name: Jamie Caskey
- Location: Savannah, Georgia, United States
I'm a tour owner, tour guide, author and painter. My tour has been featured on the Travel Channel, the Savannah Morning News, ConnectSavannah, WSOK (Savannah) radio and the New York Daily News.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Haunted Beaver House in Statesboro
The following is an article which appeared in the Statesboro Herald.
Is Beaver House haunted?
The exterior of the Beaver House Restaurant is bathed in light at night. Owner Clay Beaver said that a couple of pictures taken of the exterior of the restaurant have shown ghostly images of people in old-fashioned dress in the windows.
By HOLLI DEAL BRAGG
Walking through the Historic Beaver House Restaurant, Pennsylvania resident Holly Metcalf wore an intense look on her face. It was obvious she was searching for something, but in most cases, the objects she sought cannot be seen.
She was looking for spirits – what some call ghosts – in the house. The Beaver family said the house is haunted with the spirits of ancestors and a little girl who died after an accident there - long, long ago.
Metcalf is a “sensitive” – a person who is highly in touch with what she calls the sixth sense.
“We all have the sixth sense when we are born,” she said. “We breed it out of our children. We breed it out of ourselves.”
Metcalf said she can hear spirits.
Walking around the property, she explained how today’s society discourages sensitivity to spirit energy and other supernatural occurrences. When children speak of an imaginary friend “We say ‘you don’t have an imaginary friend,’ but maybe they do have a friend or see someone we can’t see.”
Metcalf used digital cameras and an electromagnetic sensor to detect the presence of spirit energy. The sensor would sound an alert when passed along light sockets or where wiring ran through the wall, but was quiet as Metcalf’s assistant walked into the center of a room.
Then, the red light flashed and the machine began to beep feverishly. It was nowhere near any wiring. When the sensor stopped, the assistant took a step forward. The alert resumed. The magnetic field making the sensor sound off was moving. The group followed it around the room, changing locations when the sensor stopped until the alarm resumed.
In one room, the alarm beeped rapidly. Metcalf walked into the dark room then swiftly returned, saying it was hard to breathe. Others - believers and skeptic alike - noted the heaviness of the air and a distinct change in temperature from comfortable to chilly.
Spirits pull energy from the atmosphere and from living creatures as well. An unexplainable cold spot could indicate the presence of a spirit, Metcalf said.
As she took a break from her search, the sensitive talked with Beaver outside the house, describing what she was hearing and feeling. Music no one else could hear was coming from a building nearby, she said.
“Who’s John?” she asked. Beaver said it was his late father’s name.
“No, this isn’t your father,” she said. “Grandfather? Great grandfather?”
Beaver said he did have a great grandfather by that name. “He was in government,” Metcalf stated.
Beaver looked at the others in the group. “He was mayor,” he said.
When Metcalf called another name, Beaver was visibly startled. It was the name of an aunt who had died suddenly.
Metcalf could not have known her name, he said later.
“She is still here,” Metcalf said. “She did not want to leave.”
Spirits in the house
Beaver said there are six “ghosts” that haunt the Beaver House Restaurant. One is his grandfather, Roy Beaver, a big man who stood 6’6” and weighed 480 pounds, he said.
A few years ago a psychic attending a seminar at Georgia Southern University dined at the restaurant, he said. As she paid her bill, she asked about “the big man who walks the house.”
“She said he was sitting in a red chair with a green ottoman listening to a radio,” he said, pointing to one of the restaurant’s dining rooms. “There was no way she could have known Granddaddy was a big man, and he sat right there - “ he pointed - “in a red chair with a green ottoman, and he listened to (a poplar radio program).”
Beaver’s great grandmother Ruth McDougald is also a presence in the house, as are two uncles, his aunt and a small girl named Annie who died after a fall out of a tree that stood behind where Pizza Hut is today, he said.
Employees - including some who claimed they did not “believe” in ghosts - have seen evidence of these spirits or caught glimpses of them, he said.
Annie is “most prevalent,” Beaver said. He has seen her twice.
The spirits like to play jokes, such as opening doors that had been locked; moving furniture and stealing silverware form place settings, only to replace them later, he said.
Seeing spirits or evidence of their presence is not unusual, Metcalf said. “They do say there is a very thin veil between our world and their world.”
Why are they here? “No one knows,” she said.
A ghost is like “a rut in a mud road,” she said, “the same thing over and over. “The spiritual body doesn’t realize the physical body is gone.”
Spirits are energy from previously “living” things that walk the earth.
Metcalf said she believes our lives are “specks” in the big picture and that we live multiple lives before we reach Heaven. Lives are recycled, she said.
Spirits could be lives that have not been “reassigned” to earth as we know it, and are suspended between worlds, she said.
“I believe in God and I believe there is life everlasting,” she said. “And I don’t think this is it. I believe this, life here on earth, is hell. Here, where fathers rape daughters, people kill strangers, people snort stuff up their noses - what can be worse than this?
“We are all here to learn,” she continued. “We are His students. Those who don’t choose His way are recycled.”
As she moved through the house, Metcalf and others snapped digital pictures, especially in the areas where the electromagnetic sensor went off.
The result were shots with “orbs,” - circular spots of light. While one photographer discredited many of these orbs as reflections off the camera lens, one particular shot of a dark bedroom was unexplainable.
While perfectly circular orbs were seen in this shot - explained as lens reflections - there were also two oddly-shaped light mists that could not have been lens reflections, the photographer said.
The unexplainable clusters of light were situated directly over an area where the electromagnetic sensor had sounded frantically.
There was a great deal of activity in one particular room, Metcalf said. “I just felt compelled to go there.”
Beaver said the room Metcalf was drawn to had been his aunt’s room.
Metcalf isn’t a psychic, she said. She doesn’t predict the future and cannot read minds, but she is sensitive to spirit energy.
She understands and even encourages skepticism. “You have to be skeptic,” she said. “You have to look for rational explanations first.”
But it’s when the rational explanations do not exist - as in the photos with the oddly shaped orbs of misty light -that one could believe spirits are present, she said.
Beaver said nothing seriously spooky has ever happened at the restaurant, and said no customers have ever reported strange or unexplainable occurrences while they dined.
Still, it is interesting to have a few family ghosts around, he said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414. Section/Page: Front Page
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I have no idea how to title this one, so....
This was the same tour that an entirely different woman asked me why I had my Tour Guide Permit clipped to my bag. The bag, called a haversack, rides perilously close to my posterior. She then informed me that she had been staring at it all tour. By 'it', of course, she didn't mean the permit.
My tours are getting weirder. Also, time to buy new pants...
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
'Connect' Article by Linda Sickler
New book tells Savannah's ghostly side
By Linda Sickler
June 22, 2005
“It’s almost a status symbol,” says James Caskey, tour guide, historic re-enactor and author of the new book, Haunted Savannah.
“Old seaports have that reputation,” Caskey says. “Southern seaport cities, especially.”
Caskey’s book is subtitled The Official Guidebook to Savannah Haunted History Tour. It details all the stops made during tours led by Cobblestone Tours, Inc., which Caskey owns.
The tours cover Savannah’s extensive and often tragic history, including duels, wars, plagues and murders. In addition to the stories, the book includes some photographs of what appears to be spectral energy.
The photo of Caskey that is on the back of the book depicts him with streams of energy shooting around his face. The photo was taken by his brother.
Caskey’s book came about over time. “I originally started just writing out scripts for tour guides,” he says. “I found if they had written material, it helped them a lot more than me telling them the same things over and over.”
At one point, Caskey opened the file of scripts he kept on his computer. “I was very surprised to see how much I’d written,” he says.
Then Caskey met Savannah author Murray Silver. “We must have talked a couple of hours,” Caskey says. “He urged me to get in touch with his publisher.”
The publisher is Cristina Piva, owner of Bonaventture (yes, it has two Ts) Books. “She was very enthusiastic about it,” Caskey says.
The book not only has ghost stories, there is a lot of history about Savannah. The book already is selling briskly locally. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Caskey says.
Readers have turned out for readings and signings Caskey has done so far. “One woman drove in from Pooler to meet me,” he says with surprise.
Caskey moved to Savannah 13 years ago to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design to study painting. At that time, he did not believe in ghosts.
“Then I took a job at the Fort Screven Inn on Tybee Island,” Caskey says. “The owner warned me it was haunted, but I didn’t believe in it at all. I thought he was a little off.”
Then Caskey began to hear strange noises in the hallway -- the sound of heavy boots walking, even though there was no one there. He blamed the sounds on the settling of an old building.
There was a door leading down to the basement that was always kept locked, yet often while Caskey was doing his daily duties, he would find the door unlocked. One time, he locked it and turned to walk away, only to hear the door unlock behind him.
Still, Caskey wasn’t convinced, so he locked the door and backed down the hallway so he could watch the bolt. It didn’t move, so he walked back to the door. As he reached for the knob to test it, the lock unlocked itself.
That was startling, but a truly frightening experience awaited Caskey. After graduating from SCAD, he was making his living as a decorative and portrait painter.
Caskey was hired by a couple living on Barnard Street to do several projects in their house. He often listened to music while he worked, which was sometimes at night when the couple was out.
One night, Caskey took the CD out of the CD player, which had been switched off. He was engrossed with his work when he heard Nina Simone singing, of all things, “I put a spell on you, ‘Cause you’re mine. You better stop the things you do, I ain’t lyin’, NO, I ain’t lyin’.
The music so frightened Caskey that he ran outside, threw his key through the mail slot and ran to his car.
Did he finally believe? “Oh my, yes!” Caskey says. “It gets your attention. It was such a personal message, I decided to run.”
The next morning, Caskey returned to the house and checked the CD player. It was still empty, just as he’d left it, and the owners said they hadn’t touched it.
When Caskey asked the lady of the house if it was haunted, she said she sometimes felt a presence on late evenings. The downstairs apartment also was haunted, as Caskey learned when he was hired to paint there, too.
To write the book, Caskey conducted several lengthy interviews. “I spent a lot of time with the people who own these haunted buildings,” he says.
Tourists often share their personal ghost stories with him during the walking tours. “I have found people from all over who have ghost stories,” Caskey says. “Some have had frightening things happen that they don’t understand.”
The tours began as an outgrowth of Caskey’s interest in history and his fascination with Savannah. “As a child, I was tremendously shy,” he says. “It surprises even me that I would do so much speaking in public.”
A friend who owned a tour company hired Caskey as a guide. When the friend closed his business, Caskey decided to start his own.
While writing the book, Caskey spent a lot of time at the Georgia Historical Society. “They told me I needed to set up a tent there,” he says. “They were incredibly helpful.
“i’m not a historian at all,” Caskey says. “Jewell Anderson and the rest of the staff at the historical society did all the research. They were very patient.”
While conducting his tours, Caskey wears a Confederate soldier’s uniform. “I’ve been a re-enactor,” he says. “I try to dress as accurately as I can.”
Among Caskey’s accomplishments are participating in the burial of the Hunley crew in Charleston last year. “I was conducting a tour for some re-enactors and they told me they were one member short for an upcoming event and asked if I could help out,” he says.
When Caskey asked them what the event was, they told him it was the burial of the Hunley crew. “I almost fell over,” he says.
“Since I had never been around a real firing cannon, they gave me the job that had the least activity concerning the cannon -- I was the commander,” Caskey says. “You can get hurt very easily around a cannon when you don’t know what you are doing.”
Caskey’s tours have been featured on the Travel Channel program, America’s Most Haunted Places -- Savannah. A particularly memorable tour was re-enacted for the program.
It showed Caskey leading a group through an upper floor of the Moon River Brewing Company. One of the ghosts that apparently haunts Moon River is a woman, who sometimes pushes men as they are going down the stairs.
“This fellow was walking in front of me,” Caskey says. “He had told me at the start, ‘I don’t believe in this stuff at all, I’m only here because my wife wanted to come.’
“When we got upstairs, he stood with his arms folded,” Caskey says. “He had a look on his face that said he wasn’t buying any of this.
“It was a cold evening and he was wearing a red scarf,” Caskey says. “As we were going down the steps, I saw him slap the side of his neck and give me a dirty look.”
The man later apologized to Caskey for his actions and for his remarks early in the evening.
“He said, ‘I had something happen to me at Moon River that I can’t explain,’” Caskey says. “What he felt was a hand reach down into his jacket and try to take the scarf.”
Assuming that Caskey was playing a joke on him because of what he had said, the man slapped at what he thought was Caskey’s hand.
“There was no hand there,” Caskey says. “When he turned around to look at me, I was 8 feet behind him with a lantern in one hand and a beverage in the other.”
That was not the only person to have a supernatural experience on one of Caskey’s tour. “People more often than not will usually feel a sensation, a change in air pressure or a temperature change,” he says.
“I had a woman one time who had a shocked look on her face,” Caskey says. “She asked me about ‘the woman in period costume up there.’
“I was the only one in the group in period costume,” Caskey says. “I took her back upstairs and showed her there was no one else.”
When Caskey asked if the woman minded if he shared her story with the rest of the tour group, she begged him not to say anything. “She told me her boyfriend already thought she was kind of flaky,” he says.
Although Caskey thinks spectral phenomena probably has a natural explanation, he has no theories. “I don’t know what ghosts are,” Caskey says. “I do know there is something out there because I’ve experienced it. It’’s something we can’t explain with science yet.”
Savannah deserves its reputation as “America’s Most Haunted City,” Caskey says. “It would be hard to imagine any others as haunted as us.”
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Inane Questions on Tour: A Small Sampling
If you deal with the public on a consistent basis, you'll eventually be asked some bizarre queries. I used to encourage people on tour to ask questions by saying, “There are no stupid questions.” I have sadly been proven wrong on this point time and time again. The following are just a sampling of the inane, inappropriate and just plain bizarre questions asked by tourgoers (and some responses) over the years:
“What time does the nine o’clock tour start?”
“Does the Savannah River Boat go through the Historic District?” (“Yes, ma’am, but only during hurricane season.”)
(heading into the side entrance of the 17Hundred90’s tavern, which has no sign) “Are you taking me to your apartment?” (“Ma’am, would you like me to?”)
“Are you a virgin?” (“Yes. What are you doing later?”)
(from a group of three men and two ladies) “Would you like to come back to our hotel room? Reggie finds you very attractive.”
(from man) “Can I hold your sword?” (“It would take a bigger man than you to hold my sword, sir.”)
(from woman) “Can I hold your sword?” (“Aren’t you at least going to buy me dinner first?”)
“Do you try to pick up every girl on your tour in a brown skirt?” (“Yes, I have a fetish.”)
“Can we have an experience if we pay extra?” (“Yes... I’m having an experience right now.”)
“Oh no, you’re not one of those liberal feminists, are you?” (“I think most feminists would be horrified to hear what you just said, ma’am!”)
(from a Tybee Island resident) “Okay, so the Union guns were bombing Ft. Pulaski... and you said the guns were about eight hundred yards away. But that was in the Civil War, so how far would that be today?” (“Ummm, exactly the same distance?”)
“Can we go downstairs to hear the moaning?” (You’ll only hear moaning if I go downstairs with you, ma’am.”)
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Click the photos for a larger view.
The three reenactors were a nice surprise. See, I'm not the only one who dresses up-- but they look better in a hoop skirt than I do. Just ask my employees.
That's Margaret on the left.