Amelia's Ghost Adventures: An Amelia Cotter Guest Blog

by - October 06, 2017

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Montgomery Pollock

The first and only time that I saw a ghost, that I am pretty certain of anyhow, was when I was 11 years old and had been exploring an abandoned house near where my dad worked. This was back in Baltimore County, Maryland, close to where I grew up. I had developed an affinity for this house and spent a lot of time imagining who might have lived there, what their lives were like, and of course, who might be haunting it. Local legend had it that it was haunted by a ghost named Walter and the house was affectionately deemed “Walter’s House.” I would walk through the safe parts of the house, with my mom’s permission, and wish that I could see the ghost just once.

One day, as I was leaving, I looked up into the attic windows and leaning out of one of the windows and looking down at me was a man, with both of his hands on the windowsill, wearing what looked like an old-fashioned shirt with pants and suspenders. His body and clothing were completely white, and he had no face, but I could see the detail in his clothing and “feel” that his expression was one of curiosity. I got an electric tingling sensation through my entire body.

This sounds terrifying, of course, but it somehow wasn’t. I was completely mesmerized, and felt like this person knew how badly I wanted to make a connection with him and the house. I felt honored, which sounds crazy, but I was 11 years old and filled with a sense of adventure and longing like a lot of adolescent suburban kids, and this was about as much excitement as I could possibly have hoped for. I’m also glad this happened to me when it did, because I have never had another experience come remotely close to this. In fact, the older I’ve gotten, the more anxious and skeptical I’ve become. It was a real moment in time for me.

Conveniently, the whole experience is chronicled in my first book, This House: The True Story of a Girl and a Ghost, if anyone is interested in a solid, quick YA read.

I went to college in Frederick, Maryland and worked on the Antietam Battlefield at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum for several summers. That house stood empty for many years as a stop along the Antietam Battlefield driving tour, and there was a long-standing legend about the ghost of Mrs. Richardson—wife of General Israel Richardson, who died in the house—haunting the place. Many people who worked or volunteered there, and even some guests, have claimed to come into contact with what they described as her rather unpleasant spirit. I don’t know that I ever did, but I had to open and close that building on many occasions on my own. I remember being a grown-ass woman and being afraid to walk into the house alone in the morning, and then setting the alarm at the end of the day, dashing across the house to the door, shutting it behind me, and running to my car without looking back. There was an energy to that place for sure. The house never felt empty, even when I was by myself – let me put it that way.

I’ve been living in Chicago for 10 years now and it would be difficult for me to pick my favorite Chicagoland haunt, but right now there is a rather entertaining and creepy phenomenon of people seeing a “Mothman” or “Owlman” or “Lizardman.” Pick your favorite moniker. Since April, there have been more than 20 sightings of a flying humanoid reported throughout the city, from the beach by the Adler Planetarium to the top of the Willis—well, Sears—Tower, to the intersection of Belmont and Damen up in Lakeview. Google it…it’s really something. I don’t know what to make of all of it, but these are indeed exciting times for para-geeks like me.

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