IS THE WING FORT HOUSE HAUNTED?
DO WE HAVE A HAUNTED HOUSE?
BY THE WHEELOCKS...THE CARETAKERS FOR THE WING FAMILY FORT HOUSE
(RECOPIED FROM THE 2000 ISSUE OF THE OWL)
A simple question posed during a Wing Family Reunion started it all. Had we ever had any "experiences" at the Wing Fort House?
"What kind of experiences," we asked, "Funny stories? Odd characters?"
"No, you know...experiences with ghosts and unexplained occurrences."
"Oh." Well, this is the story of one night when we stayed over at the Fort House instead of the Caretakers' house. we being Sam (age 12), Ben (age 10, Perry (age 8) and I (well, never mind).
To give those of you who are less familiar with the building some background information, the oldest part dates from about 1641. At that time it consisted of 1-1/2 stories in a Peaked Roof House, a roofline that very much resembles a witch's hat.
In about 1670 they more than doubled the living space by attaching a salt box extension. In the 1750's they raised the roofline and extended the structure by almost eight feet. This encapsulated the two earlier parts and presented the neighbors with a view of an elegant faux-Georgian facade. The house currently retains that appearance and has an interior similar to homes of that era. A lot has occurred during the over 300 years of occupation.
Our major experiences have been rather interesting. When first we moved into the caretakers' house we often saw faces at the Fort House windows as we would drive by. More than once we went over to check on what we thought was a flickering light shining through the windows. Of course, by the time we searched the houses there was no explanation.
One afternoon, early in our cartakership, I was on duty for tours. I left the main entrance door open but flicked the lock on the screen door and sat in the sunlight in another room while I waited for visitors I could not see the door from my spot. As I read a book I heard the distinctive slam of the screen door and the sound of heavy footsteps going up the back stairs. I got up and yelled "Hello! Can I help you?" But no one answered. I went to the bottom of the stairs, but by that time the noise had ceased. I checked the screen door - it was still locked! I searched the house from the attic to the tiny Cape Cod basement but with no results. All the doors and windows were locked from the inside.
Another morning when I entered the house after it had been locked up all night, I found a man' photograph lying in the middle of a braided rug upstairs. There was nothing in its vicinity from which it could have fallen, and no other person had been in the house. I always felt that someone who was passing on was letting us know personally.
Others, too, have experienced strange occurrences at the Fort House. One night when the children were quite young, the alarm went off, so I sent my husband Dave to check on it. The police car arrived as Dave was circling the exterior of the house. They all failed to see any noticeable break-in. Dave shut off the alarm and disarmed it. As they entered the house they all heard the sound of what might have been a chest of drawers being dragged back and forth across the floor. Then the noise stopped. No on responded to the query, "Is any one there?" As a more thorough check revealed no sign of a break-in, they all retreated to their beds.
The Wing Fort House is not unique on the property for its unexplained occurrences. When Sam was 3 and Ben was 1 1/2, we had guests for dinner at the caretakers' house. our friends had a little girl of Sam's age who was put to bed on the couch when our children went to bed, which left the adults the luxury of a late dinner with conversation After an hour we heard the padding of tiny feet and a little girl's giggle, "Hee, hee, hee, hee." four parents went to check on the children and found all three sound asleep. For the next year or so sometimes when I went to check on Sam and Ben as they played, they would look around and ask me, "Where did that little girl go?" We have also had Christmases when toys played by themselves, and nights when electric cars ran with no on in the room. We won't begin to discuss the lights!
The Children and I have all had other experiences which I'll let each one tell:
SAM...It was a dark and stormy night at the Fort House. Everyone fell asleep in their sleeping bags before me. We had played games until ten o'clock and read for a little while. Suddenly the stairs started creaking, and the wind picked up. I covered my head with my pillow and slowly drifted off to sleep.
BEN...As I fell asleep I could hear creaking so I pulled the covers up. I was awakened at about twelve o'clock by a voice that said, "Look." I looked around. Everyone else was asleep so I closed my eyes, too, and that was my last encounter.
PERRY...It was a dark and stormy night when all of a sudden the light went out. There was a bump in the other room. I got the flashlight and looked in. A ghost said, "Who dares to enter my house?" I ran back to my sleeping bag and jumped in. I woke back up at three o'clock and saw the ghost step into the room and disappear.
KATHY...We had come prepared for our overnight stay in the Fort House. We had sleeping bags spread across the kitchen area of the house (Keeping Room) and had an extension cord with an extra lamp. We were all familiar with all the stories about the house, and everyone felt a little creepy. No one was willing to settle down until we had the doors to the different rooms closed and all the curtains drawn. We played several games of cards and a long game of Risk with Perry and Ben dropping out because they were so tired.
As I used the bathroom in the dark for the last time before bed, I suddenly wondered bout my preparedness and my sanity. I had agreed to leave on one of the lights so that no one would be too frightened. But suppose we did run into a malignant spirit? Maybe I shouldn't have brought the children for this sleep-over? As I lay down to sleep, I , too heard the creaking of the stairs. Maybe I had been working too hard lately, but I did fall right to sleep. Next thing I knew the alarm was waking us up at 5 a.m. (I had to go to work early). There'd been no occurrences loud enough to awaken a tired mother.
Maybe next time we'll see a spirit. Maybe if we don't leave the lights on and don't close off all the house...Maybe if we stay up all night...?
David and Katherine Wheelock have served as caretakers for the Wing Fort House since 1988. Both have backgrounds in the field of colonial archaeology with practical experience in the field. Kathy also has, among her degrees, one in anthropology and has been well-suited for her task a docent for Wing Fort House visitors. She spent three summers as an archaeological student with the University of California, Berkeley at the Flowerdue Plantation of the James River in Virginia, a site which dates to the early 17th century. Dave Wheelock worked several years in archaeology on both the West and East Coasts and met Kathy, his future wife, at the Flowerdue dig. He later went on to other interests, such a restoration carpentry, and currently is a ship's carpenter on the Mayflower II at Plymouth. Their three children, Sam, Ben, and Peregrine ("Perry") enjoy the rural life around the Fort House. They also like to accompany their father when he goes lobstering. Everyone loves lobster except Perry; she prefers a bologna sandwich!
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