Thursday, October 31, 2002

Field Reports from Priestley House - Canton, Mississippi

Written by: Jeff Rent
Case Filed: 10/31/02 - Canton, Mississippi
Executive Producer: Rick Garner

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At a glance, you can draw many parallels between the cities of Selma, Alabama, and Canton, Mississippi. Both are popular sites for Hollywood filmmakers. Both are full of historic antebellum mansions. And both seem to contain an abundance of ghost stories.

The Priestley House in Canton is one of these homes where residents say they're living with spirits. Owner Frankie McMillan says, "I did not believe in ghosts before I moved here. I thought they were silly. And it took me a while living here to believe it."


Dr. James Priestley and his wife, Susan, built the Priestley House in 1852. A prominent doctor, Mr. Priestly died during an epidemic of yellow fever. The current owners, the McMillan family, have lived in the home for several years. And they're quickly discovering they're not alone. McMillan recalls, "I came in (the upstairs bedroom) one night to cut that closet light. And I cut the light off, turned around. I was going back toward my bedroom and she was standing (near the doorway). And I just kind of stopped for a second. Kind of scared me. Then I kind of skirted around her and went and got back in my bed."

Frankie McMillan believes what she saw was the ghost of Susan Priestley. Priestley family members have said that the bedroom where McMillan encountered the ghost was Susan Priestley's room. It is also the room where she died. They, too, have seen her ghostly apparition.

So, the "Unexplained" investigative team enlisted the help of amateur psychic and ghost hunter Bruce Baldwin. The only thing Baldwin knew of the Priestley House was its location and none of its history. He started his tour of the home and immediately picked up on an energy in this room. "This corner is hot."

The McMillans say candles will frequently fall from their holders. Some Canton residents have reported seeing the figure of a woman in the windows. Indeed, that corner is "hot."

Baldwin moved to the front hall where he examined the piano. "I bet that this piano plays itself sometimes."

We checked with homeowner Frankie McMillan and Baldwin's impression was dead on. "I know I was awake and that piano was playing and nobody was here."

Baldwin moved upstairs to the Blue Room, the former room of Susan Priestley and the site of her ghostly apparition. Baldwin is immediately overcome with emotions to the point of tears. "This is a sad room."

After our investigation, we asked Baldwin about this reaction. The bedroom upstairs...I don't want to go in that bedroom anymore. It's just...it's like intense sadness in there. I kind of get the feeling like a lot of people have died in that room."

We do know that at least one person, Susan Priestley died in that room and her husband died from yellow fever, although there's no evidence that he died in this room.

And, remember, Baldwin had no prior knowledge of events, which had taken place in the Priestley House. The McMillans say nobody in their family will sleep in this room anymore.

Following Baldwin's investigation, we set up a camera in the corner of the Blue Room along with an observer, Jamie Hamblin of Canton, armed with a digital camera. A Tri-Field meter, a device which detects changes in electro magnetic frequency, sometimes called a Ghost Detector, was also placed in the room. Our unit from Trifieldmeter.com is the best of its kind and paranormal experts have found it's very accurate for detecting paranormal energies.

The Tri-field meter sounded several times, even though nobody entered or moved in the room. And when our observer tried to use the digital camera, she discovered the batteries were dead, even though they had just been replaced.

We put another set of fresh batteries in the camera a while later. They, too, drained in the matter of minutes. Executive Producer Rick Garner says this is the first time he's ever experienced a camera going dead twice, bringing him to the conclusion that something was quite active at the home.

Paranormal investigators believe the presence of ghosts or spirits will drain battery power due to their disruptive presence to electromagnetic devices or even a need for energy.

One more incident of note, investigator Bruce Baldwin used a tape recorder to capture electronic voice phenomenon or EVP's. Baldwin checked his equipment and for the first time, his tape was completely blank. Another indicator to a disruption of the electromagnetic field needed to record sound on the tape - basically, a bulk erase.

In the end, the investigation yielded some interesting results, which were confirmed by the home's residents. They say it's just part of everyday life at the Priestley home.

Frankie McMillan says, "She moved here I'm sure as a young married lady. Her husband died here. She lived through the Civil War. She got so attached to this house that I think she just can't leave it."

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