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Living with spirits: Michelle Shultz sees, hears and smells ghosts


The Journal

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.  – Michelle Shultz said sees ghosts. She even smells them. But most often, she’ll feel cold drafts and goosebumps whenever they’re near.

“You can feel them,” Shultz said of ghosts or the lingering spirits of those who have died. “I do feel a lot of spirits around me a lot.”

Shultz said she saw, felt and experienced at least three ghosts and other paranormal events when she and hear family lived in a 200-year-old former plantation house called Wild Goose Farm near Shepherdstown.

The three-story, 10,000-square-foot house had a ghost named Mary who lived on the third floor, a ghost who was a slave named Joseph who lived in the basement and an older lady spirit whom her family called the “memaw”ghost.

Her family brought the Shepherdstown house back to life by making it their home after it stood empty for several months, Shultz said.

“We moved in and made that house a home, and they liked that,” she offered.

Until about a year ago, Shultz lived at the Shepherdstown house with her husband Cricky and their 9-year-old son Charlie, both of whom have seen, heard and felt apparitions of various kinds there. Recently her family moved to an old home in downtown Charles Town, where her family has seen and felt ghosts living with them again.

One ghost in her family’s Charles Town home –a circa 1802 home on East Washington Street known as the Flag House — has picked up the same habit of a ghost Shultz lived with in Shepherdstown. She said she can smell the ghosts delivering coffee to her at her bedside in the morning.

Like an alarm clock, the Shepherdstown ghost would arrive at her bedside with an aroma of brewed coffee promptly every morning at 3:14 a.m., she said. She would roll over and go back to sleep after smelling the coffee at her bedside.

She and her husband have smelled the coffee in their new house, too.

“I do like coffee,” Shultz admitted. “I love coffee.”

Shultz said her nephew, who regularly sees and feels ghosts too, has visited her Charles Town house. He saw ghosts in the front room there and in an upstairs bedroom that Charlie uses.

Charlie has seen two ghosts in the house, particularly their shadows. One ghost is a tall man with flat, combed over hair who wears a tattered buttoned shirt, the boy said.

For Shultz, who talked about her experiences yesterday, encounters with ghosts and spirits have been lifelong events, she said. (Her husband grew up in Charles Town, but he never had any experience with ghosts–until they moved into their Shepherdstown house.)

She said when she was a 5-year-old girl growing up in Vienna, Virginia, a female apparition with long dark hair wearing a white nightgown would regularly visit her.

“She would come and sit on my bed,” she recalled. “It was always in the middle of the night.”

As Shultz grew older she didn’t see many ghosts. She said she lived in Atlanta for 12 years and never experienced them there.

Arriving in Jefferson County while dating and then marrying her husband is when she began encountering ghosts again, particularly when they moved to the house in Shepherdstown, which served as a makeshift Civil War hospital and a stop on the underground railroad, she said.

“My husband is a huge old house fan,” she said. “They’ve all come with some kind of spirit.”

Now Shultz feels ghosts rather than sees them, she said.

When she was first dating her husband, Shultz encountered a ghost in his previous old home in Charles Town on Jefferson Avenue. She was asleep taking a nap. She felt someone holding her down.

“I couldn’t open my eyes and I couldn’t get up,” she recalled. “So they were actually physically holding me down on the bed, and I started to panic, so I’ve had that happened to me.”

When her now 21-year-old son Zachary was visiting the same house when he was 6 years old, he was held down in a bed in the same way, she said.

Shultz offered various stories about ghostly paranormal encounters that she said she and her family experienced at their Shepherdstown house:

•Shultz hired a stonemason to repair stone walls around the property. The stonemason’s wife, who could see ghosts too, came with him to the site and notice three ghosts looking out of the home’s windows.

“She named them, then proceeded to tell me where they lived, where on each floor,” she recalled.

•Shultz and her family would see shadows under doors of people walking in other rooms where the lights were left on.

•On the second level of the Shepherdstown house an alarm clock would go off in the middle of the night, Shultz said. Even though she unplugged the clock, its alarm would still go off if a guest stayed in that room, she said.

“And you could not turn it off.”

•Not long after moving into the Shepherdstown house, Shultz said she was storing hats inside a cabinet in an old hutch she brought from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She and a friend saw the doors of the hutch swing open and the hats fly out of the cabinet.

•One day Cricky saw a slave family walk across the yard at the Shepherdstown house, Shultz said.

“It was a man and his children,” she said. “And Cricky said, ‘I blinked my eyes and I looked again and the man was just walking,’ and (the ghost) put his hand up and waived to him.”

•Another night Cricky heard a woman repeatedly calling “Hello” to him while he was sitting on their porch on the home, located on a secluded lot.

•Mary, the little girl ghost, would become upset when people came to the Shepherdstown house for visits, Shultz said. When they slept over in the third floor a “gross, thick” yellow “honey substance” would ooze out of a light fixture and down the wall, she said.

“It was only when new people came.”

A handyman was hired to examine at the light fixture but found nothing in the wall–including any signs of bees–to generate the ooze.

• Shultz and her husband once recorded a video of Zachary when he was a young boy. Later viewing the video they saw a swarm of “orbs” surrounding her son. Shultz described the orbs as white, round circles with halos, what she maintained must be the spirits of many people who had passed.

“They were everywhere in this video,” she said.

•There was a room in the house they called the red room. When Zachary would record videos in that room that would have “tons and tones of orbs,”she said. “It always had this sort of creepy feeling in that room.”

•One of Zachary’s friends spent the night in the red room, and in the morning the friend was found locked in a closet in the room, Shultz said.

“He doesn’t know what happened,” she said. “He was locked in this closest–could not get out.”

For the first six months after she and her husband moved into the Shepherdstown home, he would not stay in the home if Shultz was not there as well.

“If he came home a nighttime and I wasn’t there, he would go to Sheetz (gas station) and sit in the parking lot until I got home,” she said. “He would not go in.”

Now her husband takes paranormal encounters in stride, Shultz said.

After her intense paranormal experiences since arriving in Jefferson County, Shultz said she believes spirits are everywhere–not just Shepherdstown or Charles Town. She also said she believes people have guardian angles. She once visited someone at the Psychic Institute in Washington, D.C., who told her she had five spirit guides helping her, including an Indian chief and an older Asian man who is a protector.

“Living in these old houses has given me a new appreciation for these spirits,” she explained.

Shultz called herself a spiritual person. Raised attending a Baptist church, she said she is just now reading and learning about the Bible with more interest. She said she would like to visit Jerusalem.

After being prompted, Shultz offered this bit of advise for people who might be living with a ghost or spirit: “If they’re not bothering you, don’t bother them. I’m very matter of fact with them. It would be a different story if they were bad, if they were hurting us.”

Shultz said she has never never had a reason to be scared of any presence of a ghost or figure from the afterlife.

“You just really need to embrace them,” she offered. “It’s not like they’re trying to take over or whatever. They just want to be near, or they just are near. … Just let them be.”

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