The things that go bump in the night...
It is Franklin’s 200th celebration of incorporation as a municipality this month.
Two centuries is a very, very long time of course, encompassing a civil war, two world wars, the rise of the oil industry and its decline of late.
A community this old and so steeped in history, that has maintained many of its historic properties dating far, far back, may also have its ghosts.
A recent interest in the paranormal has arrived in the city, and some interesting results have emerged.
Take Trowbridge House on First Street. An 1840 construction that was purchased by Chad Boutte and Steven Mora about a year ago, and has recently exhibited a bit of mysterious activity.
“When we moved in here, we had random people just knocking on the door saying, ‘Hey, is this place as haunted as they say it is’?” Chad said. “I’m like, no, please don’t come back, we haven’t had any experiences.”
He and Stephen were curious about those sorts of visits and tales. “The house just feels so light and arable and loved, and there’s nothing here,” Chad said.
“Then things started happening.”
It started in October, 2019.
“We had a portrait situation in one room, we he had a candle situation, and a gate door, and knocking and a puppy going up to a bookshelf and wagging her tail,” Chad said. “Then after this investigation, you know, I’ve never been afraid of the home, but I’m like, ‘I’m here by myself!’”
Let’s start with the portrait.
Steven purchased it in New Orleans, a portrait of an unknown woman, and brought it back to Trowbridge House. “He said, ‘Hey, I got something for the house, I don’t know who she is, but I love it,’” Chad said. He hung the portrait in an adjacent room.
“The picture was sitting in this gentleman’s house, who had it for a while, but his aunt had it for 80 years prior to that in Tennessee,” Steven said. “Don’t know anything about it or how old it is. Then we put it up.”
Chad removed a mirror above a fireplace and replaced it with the portrait. He said the existing mirror nail in the wall was too high, so he placed a mantle clock under it that was still too short. So he switched it out with another clock that was a bit taller.
“So we’re sitting down, just looking at it, and all of a sudden, the clock starts ticking,” Chad said. “These are clocks that probably haven’t worked in a zillion years. They’ve been moved, they’ve been relocated, we’ve never heard a single thing come out of these clocks.
“Well, all of a sudden, the strongest heartbeat sound…starts going, from the clock under the portrait.”
“Of course, the mind wants to rationalize,” Steven said. “Oh, it’s just balanced now, I’m sure that’s what happened.”
But the ticking continued.
So Chad switched the clocks again, and carried the first toward the kitchen and “as soon as I get past this little desk, this other clock, that never worked, doesn’t start ticking, it starts chiming! Like church bell chimes.”
“And I said, ‘Chad, why are the church bells ringing right now?’” Steven said. “And he said, Steven, it’s midnight! And he said, ‘It’s the other clock!”
“There was an energy,” he said. “It was very vibrant.”
Steven made an attempt to record the din. “No one’s ever going to believe us!”
“Soon as he turns the recorder on, soon as he presses ‘video,’ both clocks stop at the same time,” Chad said. “My knees got weak!”
Coincidentally, that was on the day of the time change.
Then there’s Blossom.
Blossom is a white poodle. Blossom sits, to this day, on a second floor corner staring…she’s been doing this same behavior as if we had just walked through the front door. Almost even trying to jump up, her tail’s going, and she is still facing the corner.
“She’s seeing something,” Chad said.
“That happened in the last few months,” Steven said.
As it turns out, they acquired some older information on Trowbridge House that revealed there were small rooms in the locations where Blossom was showing interest that had been removed. They believe what Blossom saw was a presence that once inhabited that previous room.
Not done yet.
Chad came down one morning to discover that one of two candles on the dining table’s center…had moved to the edge of the table. He asked Steven if he had worked on something on the table. He said no.
“There’s no way this would slide to there,” Chad said.
Chad and Steven weren’t afraid; they didn’t feel like it was an evil thing. “I feel things at night when this house is pitch black and I have to make it to the kitchen at 3 a.m. because I’m thirsty,” Chad said. “Through the downstairs area, I never felt alone. I feel like something’s watching me.”
“I’ll come through here and I make the sign of the cross every time I walk through, and I look up, and I don’t know if it’s Him, but I always feel like there’s something watching me in this room, and in the other room it’s even more,” Steven said.
Not long ago, they received a call from Ed “Tiger” Verdin with the City of Franklin, who asked if they’d be interested in having a paranormal investigation team visit Trowbridge House.
“I said absolutely yes!” Chad said.
Louisiana Spirits website says, “Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations…are a serious group of professional and analytical individuals, dedicated to the investigating of paranormal activity throughout Louisiana.”
They were at Trowbridge a few weeks ago, a team of seven investigators, and conducted an investigation with specialized equipment that they demonstrated and explained to Chad and Steven.
“It wasn’t a reality show, it wasn’t crappy, these people were serious about it, they had all this background,” Steven said. “They were professionals, and the first thing they said to us was, ‘Most likely there’ll be nothing here, we’re not here to make something up.’”
Among the things they told the investigators were when they first moved into the house and were cleaning up, including doors and window frames. “When I wiped the towel over it, some little water beads kinda stayed just on” what turned out to be the remains of a painted cross.
Curious, they paid attention to the rest of the house and “every single doorway, every single closet, window, door, inside and out, had three crosses on it: One on the top, and one on each side.”
They learned that the crosses were painted as part of a blessing of the house by a previous resident.
Other locals provided stories about Trowbridge House. Such as this one:
“There was a time when the Bear Festival Queen and judges were housed here,” Chad said. “There were interviews and such going on…they had all been put up for the night and the next morning someone comes to greet them.”
But there was no answer. No one answered a phone call. Upon entering, all the visitors’ belongings were there, but nobody’s home.
When contact was finally made with one of the judges, she said, “Is this a trick? Is this a setup? All of a sudden we’re in this house and this strong aroma of cigars and cigarettes permeates the house and this loud male voice is in the house! The whole house is full of ghosts, and if nobody believes that, believe it now. We got so scared we left in our robes and went to Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel.”
There were other stories told: A bottle cap moving up a wall then spinning in the air; a neighbor saw on two occasions there was a figure in the dormer window looking back at him…with red eyes.
Back to the investigation.
Steven explained the equipment: A machine that if there is a presence a light would turn orange or red; a “rimrod,” which shoots light on the ceiling with an antennae, and will “go off” and if touched; and one that works similarly. There were also deer cameras placed, and an iPad set up to scan for presences.
There were two people on each floor, he said: A technician, a demonologist, a person with a pendulum, a Christian woman, and two helpers. All WiFi was turned off and cellphones put on airplane mode.
Steven said when set up, one of the crew said aloud, “If anybody’s in here, please come change this light to a different color. She said, ‘Mr. Trowbridge, are you here?’ Nothing. ‘Chloe are you here? Julia Trowbridge, are you here?’
“Chloe” is believed to be a documented young servant who lived in the house in the 1800s.
“Nothing,” Steven said. “So she said we’d take a break. The light flickered! She said, ‘Do you want us to take a break?’ Nothing. ‘Want us to take a break, want us to leave?’ Nothing.
“So she said let’s take a break.
They moved to another room: Nothing.
“She lays her phone on one part of the table, and puts the little machine on the library table,” Steven went on. “Nothing. She suggests they go upstairs. Her phone was sitting on the table, on airplane mode, and the phone lit up. All our hair stood up!”
The investigator said, “It looks like you don’t want us here.” And the light on the machine flickered. She said, “If you want us to leave, turn this light a different color.”
Nothing. When she suggested a break again, the lights flickered again.
Steven went to the second floor with more team members, who said there was “a lot of activity there” including a sofa Chad and Steven had acquired from the Steamboat Hotel in Centerville. “There was at least one image they were able to catch,” Steven said.
They retired to the first floor and a sudden alarm went off: The rimrod had been touched.
Steven played a recording made that night. It begins with investigators asking if Chloe is there and if she likes the room, and a voice can be heard saying “yes.” Chloe also appears to say, “Okay,” to another question.
They moved to another room, where there is a mirror on a chest of drawers, with a crucifix above it. Three other crucifixes show clearly in the mirror without explanation.
Another attempt to reach Chloe resulted in an answer of “yes.”
And when asked if she had something to say to the new owners, she said “yes” but there was no follow-up. There were other encounters as well.
The team will return on Aug. 15, and will be bringing a medium along.
Chad and Steven are considering a tour of the city’s historic locations…haunted or not. With the current pandemic across the country and beyond, they realize people are not traveling far, and they are planning Halloween events for October.
“I have a strong feeling Franklin is about to be put on the map for haunted tours,” Chad said. “Other cities in Louisiana were actually revised because of their haunted histories.”
Steven said, “We don’t want the New Orleans Bourbon Street kind of feel, but maybe it’ll inspire somebody to want to live in this amazing town…and that’s what it’s all about. Money’s always nice if you can make it, but it’s really about Franklin.”
To learn more about the investigation by Louisiana Spirits and hear the audio, visit this link: www.laspirits.com