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The Wayne County Museum's Spirit Academy Night

The mummy of the Wayne County Museum.
The mummy of the Wayne County Museum.
R. Hinton

When Tim Poynter stood before the room of potential ghost hunters at the start of the 1st session of the July 19, 2014 Wayne County Museum Spirit Academy he had two thoughts in the back of his mind: one…how much experience did this group of participants have? And the other—to keep his introduction brief. They hadn’t come to hear him lecture, but rather to investigate.

Tim Poynter instructs the 1st session of the 2014 Wayne County Museum Spirit Academy
R. Hinton

They couldn’t have picked a better place to be introduced into the mysteries of the paranormal.

The Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, Indiana is a virtual treasure of historical artifacts housed in several buildings on the property. The main building was originally constructed as a Hicksite Quaker Meeting House in 1865 and has been used as the county’s historical museum since 1930. It would easily take a full day to view everything! From an Egyptian Gallery to early automobiles to Civil War displays to Native Americans to even a genuine mummy, to name just a few. And there is much, much more to see. There are several out-buildings representing a small town of the past, complete with livery, bakery, print shop, school house and blacksmith shop.

The theory goes that sometimes artifacts—for whatever particular reason—retain an imprint of those formerly involved with them. When the artifact is moved and relocated “something” travels with them. Tim clearly stated:

“There is no one place that is ‘hotter’ than another. All of the buildings are active.”

While the museum was open in the past to paranormal investigative groups, they presently appear to be limiting this to special events such as the Spirit Academy. Hopefully in the future they will reconsider allowing groups to once again privately conduct investigations.

The forty-some attendants for the first session of Spirit Academy were a mix of folks from Indiana and nearby Ohio. Many were new at this game, influenced by stories, what they had read, movies and paranormal television shows. People were divided up into small groups and led by members of SPIRIT Paranormal into different sections of the museum. There was a handful of equipment for each group to experiment with.

The group my girlfriend and I traveled with had experiences ranging from personal feelings of uneasiness to unexplained objects and figures appearing in photographs. Tim was kept busy analyzing these on a consistent basis. Some were dust orbs; some were light refractions from the camera’s flash. Yet…some were mighty interesting and not easily dismissed.

My girlfriend Laura monitored a live EVP digital audio recording session by wearing headphones, thus capturing any sound in real time not heard by our ears. In the Auto Wing it paid off! Through the headphones one could hear a heavy, rhythmic breathing, often accompanied by a wheeze and the occasional cough. Without the headphones this was not heard. Laura passed the headphones to several in the group whose eyes grew as large as silver dollars. And even Tim was impressed and flashed a knowing smile. He had been at the Wayne County Museum several times and it was an old comfortable friend.

Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of the two hour 1st session, the groups had to keep on the move to cover as much ground in the museum as they could. And there was that 2nd session of folks that would be starting at midnight looming on the horizon. For all intents and purposes, it had been a brief introduction to not only the various artifacts within the buildings, but also the secrets that seemed to resonate from within; yet an introduction that will bring one back for another visit.

The Wayne County Historical Museum’s Spirit Academy was a one time year event. Tim formerly ran several training sessions a year in the Irvington area of Indianapolis, particularly in the Irving Theater. By his own admission, however, he feels this particular area has been saturated and would not presently draw the response necessary to put on an academy. He is currently open to suggestions for other locations.

My own personal suggestion would be to expand the training sessions beyond two hours. In that amount of time you are just getting warmed up and in a comfortable rhythm. It’s hard to just shut it off and move on into the night.

The Spirit Academy fulfills a need in the paranormal community, and if you put it out there, they will come. Guaranteed!

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