I am constantly trying not to pre-judge. This was a skill I was working on long before law school. I always try to think of an alternative reason as to why someone may say, think or look a certain way. For example, perhaps someone is in a foul mood because his pet died, she is fighting with a spouse, his family member is sick. As a mother, my mother’s intuition has taught me to trust my gut and my feelings but when I walk into a supposedly haunted location I always mentally try to clear my mind and get a feel for the location. I also, as do members of my team, never look into urban legend or other publicized information that could cloud our judgment. Sometimes this works in our favor, as we find out later how our collected evidence fits into written history or when we are able to disprove an urban legend. Sometimes, however, it backfires, like when we find a supposedly haunted location most definitely is not haunted and upon further investigation of the history we find out the reputation of a place is based on local lore, not fact or even hint of evidence. This appeared to be the case on my trip to Fort Lauderdale.
I want it noted that I went without my team and during the day so I was unable to really investigate. There were a few reasons I chose to go this way, among them: (1) my personal guiding sentiment in investigations is NEVER and I mean NEVER go alone and (2) I am of the personal belief that if it’s truly haunted, it will be haunted day and night. As to rule number 1, I am clumsy, like trip over air in the brightest of daylight for no discernable reason clumsy. I won’t go alone for the simple fact that I am very likely to injure myself in some form or fashion and need my team there to help me up, provide bandages (and a good laugh), and generally keep me safe from gravity. I will address rule number 2 in a different column.
I had somehow learned of a few haunted locations in Fort Lauderdale. In this digital age it’s not always immediately clear if I was told something, read it online, heard it on the radio, or any other number of ways we get information. Regardless, I was told of 3 places – The Stranahan House, The New River Inn, and The King-Cromartie House. I did not investigate the locations any further than simply getting an address and hours of operation (which were inaccurate by the way).
Upon entry into the New River Inn, I turned on my Ghost Radar (discussed in another column), my Digital Voice Recorder, and got out the point & shoot camera. My husband, the photographer, had his fancy-pants high priced Canon. I received no feelings that indicated a haunting, but I am not a human EMF/K2, only someone who has a general sense of unease in truly haunted places. The only evidence I got was a few orbs, maybe three.
After arriving at the King-Cromartie House, I felt a small potential for a haunting which could be attributed to ambiance of the location: the house itself is completely intact, built with Dade Pine salvaged from ships that had washed up on shore and furnished with either original furniture or furniture from the correct time period. Unfortunately, only one orb as the only piece of potential evidence.
Here is where the investigation actually becomes interesting. After a disappointing run at two supposedly haunted locations, I did some research of my own about who is reporting these hauntings and just what is happening that is being considered paranormal. The King- Cromartie house is considered haunted entirely based on a book and experiences had by one man who shall remain anonymous. The best piece of evidence is, again, associated with the same one author. Personally, I find this to be somewhat suspicious and reminiscent of self-promotion. The evidence captured – a you tube video and some hazy photographs- are captured by members of this person’s team. There are no other actual accounts or testimonies about this place being haunted by anyone outside this person and his team. There is, however, the always reliable trail of “many people have reported” without any of these people actually being identified. With no evidence of my own and no reliable independent evidence, I call this place just another historic house, and a beautiful one at that.
The same general principle applies to the New River Inn. There is no hard paranormal activity to back-up the nameless claims by visitors. Further, the activity is said to be most prevalent between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. With no investigators picking up evidence and the Inn being closed during these times, who exactly is claiming this is when the activity is increasing? Further, the only pieces of evidence collected are once again by the man who shall remain nameless who wrote a book about it. Oh, and did I mention he also owns the ghost tour through town? Again, personally, I feel this reeks of shameless self-promotion.