GREENVILLE — Author, paranormal investigator, and Ghosts of Ohio founder James Willis delivered a presentation at St. Clair Memorial Hall Thursday night detailing the findings of his investigation at the Greenville Public Library
Willis did an overnight investigation at the library in March, after being approached by library staff following a previous presentation. He then returned in September to present his findings privately to library employees. Thursday’s show was in part a public unveiling of those findings, as well as a recap of some of Willis’ other misadventures while investigating a handful of alleged hauntings throughout Ohio.
“We often hear movement and sounds, generally early in the mornings,” Greenville Library supervisor Deb Cameron said. “Newspapers rustling. We hear things in the stacks, we go back and won’t find anything, then it starts up again two aisles over.”
Motion-activated sensors installed throughout the library also go off frequently with no apparent cause, and workers have reported hearing unexplained thuds, sounds of people flipping through books when there’s no one else present, and so on. They’ve also heard voices whispering in the stacks – sometimes multiple voices at once, both male and female. But when they go to investigate, there’s no one there.
Since library workers reported that most of the strange sounds tend to occur early in the morning, when the building is largely deserted and staff members are preparing to open up for the day, Willis installed cameras, microphones, and other equipment throughout the building and had employees close up for the night, then return a few hours later and go through the motions of their normal opening routine, in an effort to try and “trick” the ghosts into acting up.
While nothing conclusive was found, Willis and his team recorded a number of puzzling anomalies. Indistinct whispering noises were heard in the library’s genealogy room; strange, mechanical clicking sounds that some described as sounding like pool balls clacking together were recorded on every floor, though no one present when the recordings were made remembered hearing them at the time.
“I can’t say that’s ghostly, because that doesn’t make sense to me,” Willis said of the mysterious clicks and clacks, which seemed to come at random intervals. “What is it, ghostly morse code?”
Meanwhile, a group of female team members reported the scent of men’s cologne, despite the fact there were no men present on that floor, and WIllis’ own wife – a skeptic who claims to have never had a paranormal experience in spite of her long partnership with Willis – felt the sensation of something tugging on her sleeve.
The last recording Willis played was allegedly taken on an empty floor, in the middle of the night. A sound like rustling leaves, or maybe papers being blown across a desk, can be heard, followed by something that sounds like fabric tearing, or perhaps a velcro strap being pulled apart. The sounds seem to progress from one end of the room to the other, at about the pace that footsteps might do.
While not convinced of a supernatural presence in the library, Adult Programming Director Rachel Brock said that watching Willis’ investigation unfold was an intriguing experience.
“It was interesting to see the technological aspect of it,” Brock said. “The measurements they took… it was very much geared toward the scientific aspect of things.”
Brock also appreciated being presented with evidence and then allowed to come to her own conclusions.
“He doesn’t tell you what to believe,” Brock said of Willis. “He presents you with what he’s found, then says this is what it might’ve been.”
In the meantime, Brock stressed that though library employees still report the occasional strange noise, that doesn’t mean there’s anything for workers or patrons to be afraid of.
“There’s never been any kind of bad feeling associated with it,” Brock said. “No one’s afraid to work here.”
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. To join the conversation and get updates on Facebook, search Advocate360. For more features online, go to dailyadvocate.com