While Darcie Rowell wouldn’t call herself a full-on believer in ghosts, she does believe alleged paranormal activity associated with hauntings and spirits isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
That is because she and her family had a number of experiences they can’t explain since moving to their home on Paris Hill in South Paris about six years ago. At the same time, not everyone is convinced her house could be haunted.
“My husband is not a believer in any of that, so if you ask him, he’d laugh at you,” Rowell said of her husband, Troy. “I watch ‘Ghost Hunters’ and see stuff on TV. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t be convinced it (exists).”
The first inkling she had that her house – which was built in 1854 – could have some unseen residents was when she was approached by a woman at a community supper while the family was still working on the home. The woman asked her if she had any issues with the house and whether she knew it was haunted.
It is a number of little things that have added up over the years that caused Rowell to wonder, including seeing shadows inside the house and her daughter’s princess kitchen set turning on by itself. Rowell’s husband and father were finishing up work one night on the house and were standing in the driveway when something unexpected occurred.
“(My dad) swore he felt someone put their hand on his shoulder — there was no one behind him,” she said, noting her father didn’t believe in ghosts. “He jumped in his truck and … backed into a tree. It really jumped him quite a bit.”
Before the family moved in, Rowell tried to open a door, which felt like someone was holding it shut on the other side.
“It was unlocked; it did stick a little,” she said. “Then it flew like someone had almost pulled from the inside opening it.”
After moving in, the family began digging into the house’s history and spoke with their next-door neighbor, who had grown up in the house. The woman, now in her 90s, told them back in the 1920s, when she was a teenager, an 18- or 19-year-old male friend had shot himself in the house.
“Come to find out, he actually had committed suicide in what is now our son’s playroom,” Rowell said. “Any time you hear anything like that, when you think of ghosts and unsettled spirits, it’s like, ‘Oh, ding, ding, ding.’ Even if there is something here, I have never felt uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t a threatening, bad vibe.”
Ancestors rising in Norway
Next door in neighboring Norway, one of the town’s most iconic buildings is said to be the site of paranormal activity. The Gingerbread House, which was built in the 1850s, greets residents and visitors alike as they enter town on Main Street. The building was moved from behind the Advertiser Democrat to its current location in 2011.
“People actually swear they see probably the ancestors rising from the ground and they’re looking for the house and it’s gone. It’s a pretty scary thing,” said Albert Judd, a member of the Friends of the Gingerbread House. He said it’s believed the spirits are the original families who lived there, including the Evanses and Cummingses. “There are some of us that try to direct them to the new location so they’re happy.”
Judd said a number of sightings in the house have been reported by people across the street at Old Squire’s Farm Market and volunteers have reported footsteps and movement inside the house when no one else was there, along with objects being moved.
“It’s always at the same time of year — Halloween,” Judd said. “We don’t ignore it; we live with it every year.”
Flying shovel in Buckfield
Over in Buckfield, history and cemetery buff Phil McAlister has had a couple of experiences that made him do a double-take. He isn’t a believer in that sort of stuff, but nonetheless, he couldn’t explain what happened to him.
As an adult, he was in search of a lost cemetery on Sodom Road in Buckfield when he was traveling down a gully. It was this time of year and a cold, still day with “not a wind in the air at all.”
“There was a rush of wind that shook the tree and an old shovel had grown up through a maple tree … it landed just inches from me,” McAlister said, noting that the shovel was 40 feet in the air, and when it crashed down, it still had a branch growing through it and three bullet holes in it. “I just got a feeling it was the weirdest thing that ever happened. (I asked myself,) ‘Should I stop digging around for cemeteries or should I keep going?’”
An even spookier event happened to him when he was 7 years old circa 1967 at his grandparents’ farm, the Harrison Town Farm, in the Friendly Village. He and his cousins were playing underneath the giant barn on a large cement slab.
“A black bull was standing on that granite slab with a big, silver ring in his nose. It was like a mist that evaporated in the air,” McAlister said. “I don’t know what it was. I don’t know where it came from or how it got there. … We have never spoken of it again.”