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Ghost experiences, legends spook Fulton residents

Ghost experiences, legends spook Fulton residents

October 30th, 2016 by Adam Brake in Local News

Paranormal events aren't the first thing most people think of when considering William Woods University.

But for some, especially in late autumn, the place gives them the willies.

Some people like that. On Tuesday and Thursday, 150 people showed up for ghost tours, hoping to share spine-tingling moments.

"It was freaky," said Hannah Finders, a freshman at the college. "Stuff like that freaks me out, and the people putting on the tour sounded really creepy."

Everyday hauntings

Joe Potter, of the William Woods theater department, said his ghostly encounters have become part of his job.

"I inhabit a building where there are supernatural things and ghost activity," he said. "People are intrigued by ghostly happenings. I've heard a lot of stories over the years about encounters in other buildings on campus."

The ghost activity isn't just a hunch; it was once the subject of an in-depth, campus-wide study, Potter said.

"Many years ago, we had a ghost hunter come out," he said. "He came through Dulany and brought some of his stuff. He told us he felt like there were three ghosts there — a man, woman and child."

Potter said he works alone in the theater building most of the summer and has felt the paranormal presence of Dulany Hall's special guests.

"I've heard a piano playing, and when I call out to ask who it is, it stopped," he said. "I've seen things, like an inexplicable orb in the hallway. And I've seen both the woman and the man."

Potter said the man was an elegant, old-fashioned gent in a black suit. The woman, he said, has been the cause of so many ghost encounters, students have given her a name.

"We've affectionately named the woman ghost Vera," he said. "Students have seen her at different times. I've been in the bathroom in Dulany, and I briefly saw the woman looking at me from the other side (of the mirror). There are a bunch of stories like that, but who really knows who she is?"

Whatever Vera wants

Vera sightings fluctuate throughout the year but seem to be affected by the plays produced by the theater department, Potter said.

"Ghost activity increases when we put on something a little too risqué or sad for Vera," he said.

Joe Davis, professor of education at the college, said there are underground tunnels around Fulton — and they're infested with haints.

"There are tunnels under William Woods, and there were once tunnels under the state hospital," he said. "During the Civil War, they used them to transport stuff. Later, the state hospital would use them to house the criminally insane."

Fulton also has another dark side, Davis said.

"It was the last public hanging in state history," he said. "It took place right here in Fulton in 1933. Even being a Fulton native, it's neat to go back and learn more."

Some of the ghosts coexist in peace with the living on campus. Alexandria Burns, a senior at William Woods, said many women on campus dealt with a very special roommate.

"The most active ghost in Harmon Hall is John," she said. "From what I've heard, I think he committed suicide because his girlfriend broke up with him. He roams the halls and is kind of like the house protector."

According to Burns, John tends to get jealous.

"If you have a picture of a guy in your room, he knocks them down," she said. "Also, he likes when we are safe. If you leave your door closed, he leaves you change. I had that happen to my roommate."

While John has good intentions, Burns said his presence can be a bit disruptive.

"He tries to protect us, but it's a bit creepy," she said.

Potter said he has learned to live with his ghostly companions throughout his 32-year career.

"I don't bother them, and typically they don't bother me," he said. "There's nothing I can say that's earth shattering or Hollywood material. We just coexist, and they do whatever they do."

Potter said he doesn't believe the story about John's demise.

"To my knowledge, there's never been anyone who died on campus," he said. "You hear all these stories about so-and-so who hanged themselves. I would debunk those pretty quickly — but you never know."

Barb Huddleston, of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, said she's heard reports of paranormal activity.

"You hear stories all the time," she said. "I've heard some college students say the apartments over Brooklyn Pizza are haunted. We have a gal that volunteers here that says her house is haunted."

Potter said ghost hunters hoping to encounter a specter should follow his simple advice.

"Any time the hair stands up on the back of my neck, I pay attention," he said.