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For Those Eager To Learn The Scientific Tools of Ghost Hunting

Did you know there are scientific instruments you can use to detect the presence of ghosts? Some people have learned about these instruments from popular TV shows like Ghost Hunters. But few people have had the opportunity to learn the proper use of these instruments, especially in an environment known to be haunted.

Colonial Ghosts offers you the chance to learn how to use these instruments for yourself, and measure paranormal activity first hand, in some of the most haunted locations in America.

The proper name for a Ghost Hunt is “Paranormal Investigation”, and if you join us, then here is what you need to know about your paranormal investigation.

First things first, we must talk about safety. To complete a paranormal investigation safely, that is, without the thrill of your own injuries, or, heaven forbid, your own ghost story, then here are the rules that must be followed.

The 5 Paranormal Investigation Safety Rules

  1. Remain calm- It is important to keep a level head. We are out here to find evidence of the paranormal and so we need to make sure we don’t panic if we get what we ask for. You could scare off whatever we find or worse become injured.
  2. Be Polite- It may make you feel silly but we must treat what we can’t see with respect. We will be asking questions of the dead tonight and they will all be worded respectfully. Don’t use offensive language and keep in mind that these spirits may not know they are dead. At the end of a line of questioning be sure to say thank you.
  3. Do not provoke the spirits- This is easily the most important rule in paranormal investigating. Angry spirits do have at least some power in the physical world and you do not want to bring it down on yourselves. This is not a joke.
  4. Stay Together- Do not wander off alone for any reason.
  5. Watch your Step- It’s dark. Be mindful of your footing.
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  • You do NOT need to print out tickets. Just bring an ID and show up!
  • If you must purchase in cash or in person, you may buy physical tickets at Kilwins, located nearby at 421 Prince George Street. You can also try one of their delicious treats! Click here for a map. You must hand these tickets to your tour guide for admission. If you order online, you do not need tickets.

Now that you know the safety rules, there are a few things else you should know.

Below, we will explain the instruments we use, and where we use them, and why.


The difference between a paranormal investigator and someone who loves ghost stories is the science. As investigators, we will be gathering evidence of hauntings as we go. We will take notes and recordings, compile the evidence and make conclusions. In order to this we will be using a number of instruments.

EMF Detectors

Every guest tonight will be given an EMF detector to monitor. EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Field and this simple piece of equipment detects minor fluctuations in electricity. Now these are used by electricians and so you will pick up totally normal readings from power lines and improperly covered electronics boxes. It is believed however that spirits put out their own electrical energy so note where you get danger readings and if you are sitting still and those lights suddenly spike it’s a good indication that we are not you and your students the other side of Williamsburg, Virginia!

Digital Recorder/EVP

We will be audio recording our entire investigation. Tomorrow I will go through the data and listen for any EVP or electronic voice phenomenon. It will also let us repeat and decipher hard to hear replies from our next and most interesting piece of equipment.

Spirit Box

The spirit box is my personal favorite because it provides instant feedback. This little box cycle through radio signals, allowing spirits to speak through it. You can hear clear answers and a variety of voices. The answers we get can help you ask more direct questions.

Laser Grid

This device sets up a grid of light. This makes it easy for us to detect any subtle movement that may not be discernable to the naked eye.

Ambient Thermometer

You’ve heard about people feeling uncomfortable chills in haunted houses? Well how you feel is not that scientific. That’s why we have this handy little guy. The ambient thermometer can pick up subtle changes in temperature so we can have a clear reading on what the air is doing as we’re questioning.


Colonial Ghosts offers you four paths to walk, each with three sites of investigation.

The Hangman’s Path

Follow the final footsteps of colonial criminals and pirates in this two-hour investigation.

At your first stop, the Public Gaol, you will dare to speak to the ghosts of Henry “Hair-buyer” Hamilton, brought here for his reputation for being the wrong kind of collector... and the 14 doomed pirates of Blackbeard’s crew, all sentenced to hang, for their crimes as harbingers of the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Will these spirits reveal their crimes to you? Are they alone? Do they know Peter Pehlam, and why that would matter? Discover these secrets and many more, as you master the instruments of paranormal investigation.

Your second stop along the Hangman’s Path will be Capital Landing Park, along Capital Landing Road, which was once known as “Gallows Road”. This is the site where Blackbeard’s crew was left to hang, strung from iron gibbets, flesh rotting in the hot sun, a final reminder of the price of piracy in Virginia.

Will you be one of the many who has heard the ocean here, without being able to explain how or why? Will you be the first to record the sound of the crashing of the waves and the songs of the seagulls with one of your instruments? And, will you meet an old friend of Colonial Ghosts, who has identified himself as “Joey”?

Your third and final stop along Hangman’s Path will be Hangman’s Lane. As you walk, you will notice a hotel. But you could almost call this hotel a dodge of history, for once upon a time, this was home to a different kind of hospitality. It is here, where the hotel stands humbly, that the gallows of Colonial Williamsburg sent their final garish invitation to crooks and privateers.

As you’ve no doubt eagerly guessed by now, the spirits bound to this place are the most aggressive along the path. We have never known them to be shy, and Colonial Ghosts guides have been called “idiots” or worse in our attempts to communicate. Charmingly, it seems across all ages and across all seas, those called to service of the sea, be they longshoreman, or marauders, have always been happy to “swear like a sailor”. Don’t be surprised (or offended) if you find they swear at you! Remember the types lives these men lived…

The man who owns this place, amusingly named “John Smith”, is 100% sure the dwelling is haunted.

Asylum Alley

Another possible path for your paranormal investigation is Asylum Alley. Here you will explore the madness of the early madhouse. And it really was mad, because the early madhouse was the first and last hospital in history where the pure and wholesome oath of Hippocrates was turned inside out, into something purely gruesome and hypocritical.

It was the doctors who were sick here, steeped in the evil comfort of a mad superstition. It can’t be said that the patients were well, but it just is just as well to say their treatments were ill. Bloodletting, which was to prick or cut the patients in the vain hope they could bleed the disease out, was as common as covering the patients in a salve designed to blister their flesh. If those didn’t work, surely dunking or drowning them in ice cold water to “shock the system” could be relied on.

If intense human emotion is the source of haunting, then there is more source of haunting per square inch in the early Asylums of America then the most crowded graves of the Civil War.

Your first stop along this recounting of topsy turvey horrors is the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. A building with many curses, not the least of which is the curse of bearing forevermore a series of long-winded names, this same building was once just as clumsily called the “Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds”.

If you have the nerve, it is here you will interview those sad souls left to die scarred and alone, behind heavy wooden doors and chained to iron bars. Their accommodations boasted straw mats for the well-to-do, and cold stone beds arranged carefully of stone floors, accented by the fragrant aromas of a familiar chamber pot, to lull the patients to sleep.

Remember to be respectful. These souls are tired and weary, and have not much rest.

Your second stop will be a certain brick wall at Bicentennial Park, marking the final resting place of the Galt family. The Galts were for generations trusted keepers of the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds. One Galt in particular, John M. Galt, shined as a beacon of hope for the humanity of these patients.

John M. Galt was the one sober mind in a sea of corruption, and made it his life’s work to treat each patient at this hospital with human dignity and human respect. He made sure every patient had their own bed and dedicated recreation time. He considered these patients his family. His reform brought real healing to the place and under his supervision the hospital grew into a sprawling seven building campus that spread over this entire area. You might even say John M. Galt brought hope to this place.

The curses of this building were legion, however, and as the Civil War crashed over the shores of Williamsburg, the Union’s martial law starved the hospital out. Unable to procure food, clothing and medicine for his patients, John M. Galt petitioned the Union and even challenged the Union on occasion. This led to Galt being banished from his own desperate hospital, and left his mind not insane, but certainly disordered. John M. Galt died not as a healer, but as one in need of a healer, as he had sunk into a depression, and turned to Laudanum, a powerful opiate, to alleviate his suffering. In the end, Laudanum alleviated John M. Galt.

It is difficult, thinking of the story of John M. Galt, not to be taken by the truth that is just as obvious as it is macabre and menacing, that the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds had a spirit of its own, and like the temples of the Mayans or the altars of Hannibal, this spirit had a forbidden and inexhaustible appetite, borne from an unspeakable darkness. A darkness that snuffed out even the light of the torch that John M. Galt lit for his adopted family, and ultimately, even the torch of John M. Galt.

Investigate this location with caution.

Your third and final stop along Asylum Alley will be the Hospital Cemetery. Only by contrast with an insane asylum does a cemetery seem to offer so much hope, and it was hope for those tormented souls whose greatest aim would be to rest in peace.

Here they do rest, and here we will ask for a sign. Please stay calm, and if you notice anything, be sure to say so loud enough for the whole group to hear, so the recording devices will mark it accurately.

The College of William and Mary

The oldest college in the United States has many stories to tell.

Your first stop will be the Lord Botetourt Statue. A perfect bisector of the Brafferton House and the President’s House. The Brafferton House was constructed as a dormitory house for Native American boys, as they were indoctrinated into colonist culture. The poor boys were made to stay here, locked inside away from family and friends, and many died of foreign diseases. Some managed to escape, in varying degrees, and their stories haunt the grounds to this day.

The President’s House was once used as a hospital for wounded French soldiers during the revolution, and during this time, the interior caught fire, killing many already wounded men.

The President’s House is also home to a more recent haunting. Not long ago, a family who lived here did everything they could to deal with a door that slammed on its own. Eventually they removed the door, only to hear the sounds of scratching and pawing behind the walls of the closet. You won’t believe what an electrician found, or what happened to him that prompted him to find it, as he was doing routine maintenance on this house, that revealed the source of the family’s haunting.

Your second stop will be the Wren Building, perhaps the most versatile building in haunted Williamsburg. Today an academic building, it has in the past been a hospital for soldiers of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, burned to the ground 3 different times, and has also been a dormitory for students.

As a hospital, it couldn’t handle the influx of wounded soldiers, so many amputations were performed directly outside the Wren Building. Knowing that it was not under the best circumstances, or even decent circumstances that many here died, please be respectful as you investigate.

Your third and final stop at the College of William and Mary will be at the Sunken Garden. This is the final resting place of a mangled boy from the Brafferton House. Here you will learn his story, and why it’s been reported by local joggers they’re being outpaced by a small boy, who disappears without explanation.

The Battle of Williamsburg

4,000 men are recorded to have fallen here, casualties of war. The pivotal “Battle of Williamsburg” has generated as many hauntings.

Your first stop will be the Market Square, which was once the Greek Revival Baptist Church. There are two relics of the Colonial world responsible for the suffering that has haunted this area. The first was a piece of awfully simple technology. The second, an awfully simple man.

Miniball ammunition, which flattened on impact, spelled the immediate and inevitable doom of dead men walking. If you were hit in the wrong spot with this ammunition, which included the entire length of the torso, and sometimes even the legs because of the femoral artery, it was already too late.

The men who passed for surgeons back then, without license or any real tools of medicine, could only offer you a cold shoulder as they searched the battlefield for men they could treat. You would be left for dead, with minute or hours of breath in your lungs.Not that treatment was very popular. There was one treatment, and one treatment only, for the wounded in those battles. And that was amputation. Amputations took approximately 12 minutes, and the only known anesthetics of the Colonial world were alcohols. Most weren’t lucky enough to be granted a swig of whiskey as their limbs were sawed off.

Also, there were no guarantees against infection. It was only barely short of a guarantee that most amputees would develop gangrene.

“The Head Devil”, an awfully simple man whose real name has been lost to history, was the Joseph Mengele of his time. A surgeon who boasted a less than 30% survival rate, he flooded the streets with blood with his sick and twisted experiments. He had one simple aim, and that was to indulge in the suffering of wounded men.

If you dare, you will have all the tools to contact these spirits for yourself.

Your second stop exploring the Battle of Williamsburg will be the Secretary’s Office. You’ll notice the miniball scars in the brick. It’s rumored to be where Union soldiers cut down a number of confederate soldiers, and their screams are still heard beyond the wall.

You may also encounter a redheaded girl with thick glasses, believed to be one of the Jones girls. An eccentric man, Mr. Jones was known for sheltering his daughters as if they were prisoners. The only girl who made it out for something besides church, predictably, made her escape for young love. Tragically, on her way to meet her young paramour, she was struck by a carriage and killed in the street.

Your third and final stop investigating the Battle of Williamsburg will be the Fort Magruder Hotel. In its courtyard, you will find one of the many earthen work structures used on the front lines in the Battle of Williamsburg.

By now you will be more comfortable with your instruments of investigation, and we encourage you to ask questions of the spirits here to learn their stories.